ANTIOCH -- A mural in progress at the rear of the Antioch Historical Society Museum depicting a bustling 1901 train depot will be dedicated this summer to train enthusiast "Smoky" Jones and his wife, Jody Jones, an Antioch Animal Shelter supporter.
Through their trust, the late Antioch couple commissioned a mural to commemorate trains traveling into the city at the turn of the century. Local artist Kibbi "Mad Marj" Hause is creating the two-story mural featuring Smoky as the conductor and Jody as a waiting passenger with a beloved cat on her shoulder on the exterior of a garage building at the museum.
"Kibbi is extremely talented and has several murals in businesses around town," said Antioch Historical Society Director Elizabeth Rimbault. "In the future, when entering the museum from the rear, you will appear to be entering the old train station."
Hause, a Bethel Island resident, is being assisted by her daughter, Carolyn Kibbe, and her granddaughter, Samantha Redman, on the mural project, which will be unveiled at an Aug. 24 dedication. The mural is accompanied by railroad equipment from Smoky's massive backyard collection, including a set of operational railroad-crossing wigwags.
The train depot scene also features Antioch's first African-American resident, Thomas Gaines, who was a freed slave who tended the altar at First Congregational Church, worked as a warehouseman and was known to walk ladies home from church.
"He had a great deal of respect from residents," Rimbault said.
Another resident depicted in the mural is Ah Young, a successful Chinese produce merchant at the turn of the century. According to Rimbault, he traveled to Antioch homes to sell fresh vegetables to residents and shipped his goods to Stockton and San Francisco.
"We wanted to make sure that all of the ethnicities of the early residents were depicted, so that all people are represented," Hause said.
Museum visitors recently were able to get a sneak peek of the mural during the city's Celebration of Arts opening through two observation windows from the second story of the building's interior. Hause and her team have been using a scissor lift to paint the 26-foot building.
"We will be inviting dignitaries and the entire community to the dedication of the murals and the train display on Aug. 24," Rimbault said. "It is an excellent time to observe muralists at work as well as view the museum and all the wonderful art present in Antioch."
Museum visitors can learn more about all of Antioch's murals through a public mural display currently on the front counter. This includes the "125th Anniversary Celebration Mural" on West 2nd Street by Charlotte Downs-Siska and daughter Kelly Bates-Fowler; "The Telephone Operators" at 310 G St. by Downs-Siska; and "Books, Our Magic Carpet" on the Antioch Public Library by Cynthia Kelly.
The murals were commissioned by the Antioch Friends of the Arts, Rimbault said. "When the Friends disbanded, we transferred all rights and assets to the Antioch Historical Society, and that is why the museum is now receiving the gift of the train mural."
Described as "community activists," Smoky and Jody were avid supporters of the museum and several other community organizations. Jody died in 2012 and Smoky died in March.
In addition to the mural and train memorabilia, they also left a donation to the animal shelter in their trust.
"The murals and the new train display will be playing an important part of our education program for all of the third grade classes that come to the museum on school tours," Rimbault said. "We are using them to teach train safety as well as the history of Antioch."
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174.
The new mural at the Antioch Historical Society Museum will be dedicated at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. The museum is at 1500 W. Fourth St. For further details, call 925-757-1326.