Mural Added to Landmark “Carpets & Draperies” Building
Revitalization project preserves historic Midtown building with modern mural twist.
A soaring, three-story mural by Tara Chickey completes renovation efforts at the historic “Carpets & Draperies” building at 1507 N. Third Street in Harrisburg.
“Using her signature color palette, which is bright and cheery, Tara’s mural is all about color and shapes, and the way they interplay with each other,” said Meg Caruso, Sprocket’s President and Co-Founder. “I think it’s important to appreciate art that’s more loose and colorful, which makes this mural stand out.”
The mural, titled “We Are Connected by Rope Bridges,” marks the 15th mural located directly along a mural-dense, mile-long stretch of N. Third St. in Midtown Harrisburg. It forms the backbone of the Harrisburg Mural Trail which extends into the Capital District, Allison Hill, Steelton and Penbrook neighborhoods.
“What Sprocket has done on Third Street has had a major influence on the streetscape. It’s made a big impact on how Harrisburg feels. Right away, I knew I wanted this building to be part of that,” said Foote, who will soon move into the renovated building’s top floor. He’s also leasing four additional apartments, as well as retail space to Broad Street Market bakery vendor Raising the Bar.
The mural’s completion marks several full-circle moments:
According to Foote, the “Carpets & Draperies” building—known by the remaining portion of its original signage—is the former Gerber’s Department Store which opened its doors exactly 100 years ago, in October of 1922.
“This building used to be a showpiece. It symbolizes what Midtown used to be, 100 years ago, and the potential it still has 100 years later. And the mural is a big part of that,” said Foote. His legal firm, Andreozzi + Foote, sponsored the mural’s creation.
Although the building was vacant for at least 15 years, Chickey added murals to its front windows during Sprocket’s first full-length summer festival in 2017. Those murals had to be removed during renovations, so Caruso said it only made sense to invite Chickey back to create new artwork.
Additionally, the building has special meaning for Chickey. She had one of her first art exhibits there, in the early 2000s, during which she met her husband. Their daughter’s artwork inspired Chickey’s mural design.
“I think murals make a city—make it more welcoming and inspiring—so I’m happy to be part of that legacy by bringing some joyful color to the city,” said Chickey.
This is Chickey’s largest mural to-date, and she admits the size and scope of the project was intimidating at first.
“My paintings are always very intuitive and atmospheric, so it was a bit of a challenge to see if I could translate that into a bigger scale,” Chickey said. She describes the process of becoming OSHA lift-certified in order to paint from the ground level, up to the top of the third floor, as “pretty wild at first.”
“We Are Connected by Rope Bridges” is Chickey’s second full-scale mural for Sprocket. She previously painted a mural depicting birds in flight at 28 S. Dewberry Street during the fall of 2020. Chickey serves as art director at The Millworks, a Harrisburg gallery, restaurant and brewery destination, and is a former teacher at Central Dauphin High School.