Greenfield Celebrates Juneteenth with Unveiling of Abolitionist Art Walk


GREENFIELD – The City of Greenfield has scheduled the inaugural tour of twelve historic sites, each featuring a freshly painted sidewalk mural illustrating the local history of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad, for Wednesday, June 19, (Juneteenth), at 9:00 a.m. The guided tour by local historians will begin at the first historic site, on Bank Row adjacent to the Olive Street Parking Garage, and continue to the other locations around downtown Greenfield.

The tour will finish at Veterans’ Mall before Greenfield’s annual Juneteenth Parade, which begins at City Hall at 11:00 a.m. The Juneteenth festivities continue at Beacon Park from 1:00 – 5:00 P.M. for the third annual Juneteenth Celebration, presented by Mpress Bennu and Moving Mountains.

A digital, self-guided version of the tour is available for those who cannot attend the Juneteenth event and can be found at https://visitgreenfieldma.com/art-walk/.

The twelve historic sites each feature a hand-painted mural on the sidewalk illustrating the site’s history. The sites include 451 Main St., the current location of the Greenfield YMCA, where a home belonging to local abolitionist George T. Davis once stood.

Two sites feature murals dedicated to John Putnam, a black barber and musician, who, according to family stories, actively assisted fugitives on the Underground Railroad traveling through Franklin County. The final site on the tour features a mural dedicated to abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass, who spoke at the former Washington Hall auditorium (now Veterans Mall) in Greenfield on January 3, 1866.

“The Abolitionist and Underground Railroad Downtown Art Walk is a fantastic platform to commemorate the immeasurable impact of these significant people and places,” said Mayor Virginia “Ginny” Desorgher. “I want to thank the talented artists for their vibrant and meaningful contributions, as well as Economic and Community Development Assistant Christian LaPlante for organizing this project.”

The complete list of historical sites and artists can be found below:

  1. 31 Bank Row The Marsh Family by Lahri Bond
  2. Corner of Hope St. & Main St. The Franklin County Anti-Slavery Society by Rachel Silverman & Ari Santos
  3. 451 Main St. George T. Davis by Lee Moonan
  4. 473 Main St. Billy Elliot by Robert Markey
  5. 500 Main St. George Grennell by Youme Nguyen Ly
  6. 402 Main St. The Leavitt Family by Melissa Pandina
  7. 400 Main St. John Putnam by Youme Nguyen Ly
  8. 63 Federal St. George T. Davis by Youme Nguyen Ly
  9. 258 Main St. John Putnam by Jonathan Ramirez
  10. Corner of Coombs Ave. & Main St. The Wells Family by Trouble Mandeson
  11. Corner of Miles & Main St. The Fisk Family by Melissa Pandina
  12. 265 Main St. Washington Hall by Melissa Pandina

Funding for the Abolitionist and Underground Railroad Downtown Art Walk was provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts. City staff released a call for artists in December 2023 after receiving training under the Making it Public public art training program. Artists - eight individuals/teams in total - were selected by a review committee consisting of local historians, Cultural District Committee members and a Greenfield Human Rights Commission member. The painting of the murals will continue through the first two weeks of June; murals are coated with a non-skid layer for safety. The city plans for the murals to last on the sidewalk for up to a year, depending on wear.

Questions regarding the Abolitionist and Underground Railroad Downtown Art Walk can be directed to makingitpublic@greenfield-ma.gov or 413-772-1548 ext. 4.