As the years went by we began to notice how both the barn and the mural were slowly starting to fall into disrepair. Then a couple of trips back we were delighted to see that it was sporting a fresh paint job, on what we assumed was the renovated barn. It turned out that the old barn had been leveled, to be replaced by this new one and a new cow and pig also. I decided to do a little research on line and found its story here.
The barn was built by farm owner William R. Free in 1922, and passed down to his son-in-law, Thomas Hawkins, Sr.
Twenty-three years ago Sylvia Ludwitz, who had passed by this barn all the time on her commute, heard about a mural contest on the radio. She was eager to enter the competition, but wasn't sure where to paint her project. Remembering the barn she asked permission from Mr. Hawkins Sr. to paint on the side. He said yes and she and a group of students from the Brentsville District High School began their labor of love. The mural didn't win the contest but it became a very important icon for Nokesville, to all of us in fact who enjoyed seeing the cow and pig as we made our way up Rt. 28.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the barn started looking a little ragged and the mural with it. In May 2012 the Hawkins Barn Restoration Committee started organizing fund raisers. I guess the barn was too far gone. Sadly it had to be demolished and a new one was built in its place.
In 2015 the current barn owner, Dale Hawkins, found the artist again, and asked if she would repaint the mural. It doesn't sound like she had any hesitation in agreeing to do so. The story goes that she was base jumping in Katmandu when news of the new barn and the mural request found her. She immediately hopped into a dugout canoe and started paddling north. After three months of travel (hopefully she wasn't in the dugout for very long) she arrived in Nokesville and started painting the mural, this time helped by many residents including members of Friends Uniting Nokesville. It was an exciting time for everyone, including the people driving by who saw the painting going on, honking their horns in encouragement.
So here we were last Friday, not realizing all the effort that had gone into restoring one of our favorite sights as we drive towards the Shenandoah's. Sylvia Ludwitz, the artist who started it all, Dale Hawkins and the town of Nokesville have a lot of heart to get this done. My thanks go to all of them. It has always given us a smile as we drive by.