The Princeton community is trying to save a piece of history from becoming a victim of the wrecking ball. What will it take to preserve the distinctive tile murals that grace the front of the original Princeton High School (PHS) building? It takes the support of the entire community and an estimated $125,000 to move the one-of-a-kind artwork across the street to the new campus.
The murals, created by famed German artist, Carl Zimmerman, are a familiar sight to anyone who has driven past the original high school building. These murals have been in the same location since PHS opened in 1958. Zimmerman’s works are seen all over the Cincinnati area. He based his PHS work on William Shakespeare’s poem, “The Seven Ages of Man.”
Because the unique artwork is in danger of being demolished, students, staff, alumni, and local artists are rallying to raise awareness and the funds needed to preserve an important part of Princeton’s history.
“Princeton was always avant garde and always progressive in their approach of education,” said Princeton alumna and mural activist, Kelli Reisen. “They brought in Carl John Zimmerman, and he based it on Shakespeare’s poem, ‘The Seven Ages of Man.’” In the first photo, it shows a boy, juvenile and chasing a ball. In the second photo, it shows the same boy, but now he is at school age and is learning his language. In the third photo, he is a teen, wooing a woman with the language he had learned as a child. In the fourth photo, he being married to the woman he loves. In the fifth photo, the couple has two children. In the sixth photo, the couple is calmly enjoying their empty nest. And, in the final photo, the couple is at a very old age, before death.”
Kelli has been determined to save the murals because they important to the culture and history of Princeton. “We need these touchstones, and it serves as something that can encourage people and students and alumni, and the community through the ages of your life just like Shakespeare said,” said Kelli.
“[The murals] show how you go through life,” said PHS senior, Annaliese Levy. “It shows how you are growing in life. It would be sad to see it go. I think it’s really special to Princeton High School and an important piece of our history.”
Saving the murals has become more than just a Princeton issue. Several local news outlets got word of the efforts to save the murals and covered the issue. They got interviews from current Princeton students and Princeton Alumni. Here are links for some of the news coverage:
Alan Bates, PHS English teacher, shares his opinion on the murals.
“When I was a student here, I did not know the significance of them [murals]” said Bates. “It’s something Princeton students walk by everyday. Now, I can see the relevance of it. I can now relate it to ‘The Seven Stages of Man.’ To get the word out, I believe a lot of it is education, [for example] why it is important to maintain. I think it’s important to preserve our history. I just hope that we can make it happen. We have to spread the word about why it’s significant to our history.”
“Princeton was blessed to have such a wonderful artist take the time to create something this significant, and those alumni trying to save them want to honor that talent and gift,” said Vicki Hoppe, PHS executive secretary.
Saving the murals for Princeton means more than bringing over a piece of the old high school to the new school. The murals represent a part of history that is vital to the community that Princeton created when it opened its doors in 1958. Each stage of life presented in the mural represent the growth of Princeton’s history up until now and it would be a major loss to all of Princeton if the murals aren’t saved. With the use of Facebook and numerous news outlets, Reisen plans to gather donations to save the murals. Here is a link to the fundraising website: