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Memorable Maniece Murals

By Staff | May 16, 2008

The school building was named for Margaret Ann Maniece.

The walls will come tumbling down and so will the creations of former art students who painstakingly worked to create the larger-than-life murals on the hallowed halls of the Maniece Building.

Now part of the Estherville Lincoln Central High School, the Maniece Building will be demolished as soon as the last bell rings on the current school year. In its place will rise the new middle school building for grades five through eight made possible through the bond issue sanctioned by voters of the school district in 2006.

The bare, cheerless brick walls of Maniece came alive when Bill Elling was high school art instructor between the years of 1971-2001. “I can remember the kids talking about spicing up the walls.”

Elling took the fresh idea to the administration. Once the student drew up a plan for appropriate art work, administrators gave the green light.

“We bought the paint through the art department’s budget and during their spare time, they painted and worked on their individual projects. Any free time they had, whether a few minutes at the end of art class or out of study hall, went to the mural projects. I remember they all had a good time doing it. There were multiple groups working at one time.”

These students got excited about the murals on the walls. And when the student ran out of hall space, they ventured into some classrooms with instructor/administration permission. Sometimes the older murals were painted over.

Elling said many people who came to the school for various events would walk through the hallways to check out the artwork.

“Some of my students then painted murals on their bedroom walls. It was a great experience and they enjoyed it as some had never had the experience of painting on a wall before. Mural painting was a whole new field which required a roller pan and a big brush. It was a new area for the students and one they were excited about.”

And a few can vividly recall this excitement after all these years.

n Mary Heskett Schumacher of Estherville. “Dawn Skow painted with me and we had such a good time!” Today Schumacher is the owner of Studio M Photography at 804 Central Ave. and captures the special moments of weddings, senior portraits and babies. “I do all types of photos.”

She has been an instructor for the Humboldt Arts Council and offers an annual photography class. Currently four of her photos are on display at the Lakes Arts Council and Schumacher is regularly taking classes with the Northwest Iowa Professional Photographers of America.

Another enterprising business of hers is Bear Ink where she entertains private commissions for pencil drawings. Customers to date reside in Vermont, Georgia, Nebraska and South Dakota. The creations are primarily included in private collections.

Schumacher manages to make time for husband Tim and children, Gabrielle Rickard, 7, and Sophia, 6 months.

n Alyssa Voster Moffitt of Mankato, Minn. She remembers painting her mural with two friends and hoping no one would come along and paint over their creativity.

“The fun part was hanging out and spending time with my friends instead of going to study hall. It was also a way to be creative. I remember always trying to add to the drawing. But it was the best project we ever did.”

The high school artist is now married to Rob Moffitt and they are the parents of Willem, 8, and Emma, 7.

At the present time she is not involved with any art projects.

Instead she is taking quality time and showing art techniques to her children.

“My dream is to have a studio and work on oil paintings.” Her latest oil creation is now featured in her dad Darlowe Voster’s home in Estherville.

“I miss high school. That’s the place where you learn how to be an adult and learn who you’re going to become. It is the basis of how to learn how to live life through experiences.”

Other hallway mural artists back in the day included: Bob Breiner, Sara Brua, Vicki Bueltel, Shannon Callahan, Karen Grandmont, Donna Heisler, Darby Christine Hill, Jamie Jensen, Tami Kaltved.

Traci Kaltved, Vicky Laffey, Alysa Lahr, Derek Lester, Chris Ohrtman, Tony Osborn, Dawn Skow, Kim Snyder, Jana Swanson, Emily Towell, Aaron Ware, Nancy Waldron and Kim Woodyard.