A piece of history was removed from The Rolla Daily News office this past week, but it will eventually find a new home on the Missouri University of Science of Technology campus in Rolla.
"The Rolla Mural," which depicts the history of Rolla from about 1844 to the 1950s, was taken down Thursday . . .

A piece of history was removed from The Rolla Daily News office this past week, but it will eventually find a new home on the Missouri University of Science of Technology campus in Rolla.
"The Rolla Mural," which depicts the history of Rolla from about 1844 to the 1950s, was taken down Thursday and moved into storage Friday while a new place to display the artwork is found at the university.
Missouri S&T physical facilities department staff worked to carefully remove the 5-foot-by-22-foot mural that was unveiled in 1953 by the late Honorable Walter Taberman, secretary of state, in the Sowers Building, which is home to The Rolla Daily News.
Artist Sidney Larson painted the mural, which was commissioned in 1952 by Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Sowers.
According to historical information about the mural, in preparation for the project, Larson consulted with Dr. C.V. Mann, a Rolla historian, for historical authenticity.
Larson completed "The Rolla Mural" on Nov. 7, 1953.
The mural depicts several historical figures, moments and buildings in Rolla's history. Rolla was founded in 1858, and the painting was timed to be on display with the approach of Rolla's Centennial in the 1950s.
The painting goes back more than 100 years to 1844 when John Webber built a cabin in the Ozarks wilderness on the site later to become Rolla.

Mural scenes
Starting at the far left side of the mural, Webber's wife is shown shooting a panther on the roof of the cabin. The mural also shows Edmund Bishop, who is considered the city's founder, nailing up a sign to mark the new town in 1858.
Larson painted other scenes, such as a pioneer youth and Osage Indian wrestling, Fort Wyman — a Civil War installation, the old Iron Works at Maramec Spring and an old wood-burning locomotive blowing smoke and spewing steam. Rolla was the "end of the line" at that time for the Pacific railroad, later the Frisco line.
A man holding a Rolla Daily Era newspaper with the word, "FIRE" in all capital letters, is meant to represent the editors of the past. A disastrous fire in 1939 destroyed much of Rolla, including the Rolla Daily Era newspaper office, which is located where The Rolla Daily News is today.
Other parts of the mural show buildings, including the old Edwin Long hotel, now Phelps County Bank, and many buildings on the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy campus, later called the University of Missouri-Rolla and now referred to as Missouri S&T.
Edward W. Sowers, former Rolla Daily News publisher, is shown along with other workers, newsboys delivering papers and a printing press.
Soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korean Conflict also are shown. The mural ends with athletes struggling for possession of a football — reminiscent of the pioneer and Indian wrestling at the beginning of the photo.

About the artist, mural
Larson was the director of the art department at Columbia College, formerly Christian College in Columbia.
In addition to "The Rolla Mural," his other works included a series of murals for the MFA Insurance Company's home office in Columbia and a series of 15 paintings and three large metal sculptures for the Riback Pipe and Steel Company in Columbia. He also painted two large murals for the 1st Bank of Commerce in Columbia.
Larson was a curator of the gallery of the State Historical Society and was past secretary of the advisory committee on visual arts of the Missouri State Council of the Arts. Larson died in 2009 at the age of 86.
On April 1, 1972, the mural was perpetually lighted. The Honorable James C. Kirkpatrick, secretary of state, and the Honorable Richard H. Ichord, Missouri 8th District congressman, flipped a switch, turning on the perpetual light, spotlighting the painting night and day in its newly recessed setting.
The mural was painted on a piece of Belgian linen canvas in casein tempera and preserved with the traditional egg varnish, over which a merthacrolate plastic was sprayed to preserve it "for ages ahead."
The mural was mounted on two and a half plywood ping-pong tables and held to the 12-inch block wall by toggle bolts.
The canvas was applied to the plywood surface with a thick coating of white lead, plus a sicative.

Removing the mural
The mural is being relocated to Missouri S&T, where the artwork can be on display at a more public place. The mural has been moved to a climate-controlled storage area until a final display area can be found.
Planning for the removal of the mural began about two and a half months ago, according to Mike Bassett, facilities operations supervisor with the physical facilities department at Missouri S&T.
"I did a lot of research," Bassett said, noting that there were no diagrams available of how the mural was attached to the wall.
"We've moved a lot of big things. This was probably one of the smallest, but most difficult," Bassett said.
He said the job could not have been done without his staff, who Bassett said are "big history fanatics," like himself. Most of the employees grew up and have lived in Phelps County, so there is a pride among them, Bassett explained.
"I love history, so I wanted to give this the utmost respect," he said.
Larson had commented that he expected the mural to last for a long time at the building, and Bassett agreed, noting that there were about 50 to 60 bolts and nails holding the mural in place.
Bassett said that a special saw blade had to be created to cut the mural loose from the wall.
The mural was protected with wrapping and a special frame structure to keep the mural from coming apart.
Jacks that are used for duct work were used the lower the mural and pull it away from the wall.
A front window to The Rolla Daily News office was temporarily removed to take the painting out of the building.