Columbia-born artist Blue Sky, known in South Carolina for his trompe l’oeil murals painted on public buildings, completed this work in 1985. Titled Old Darlington Public Square, the 20×144′ mural in Darlington depicts how the town may have appeared in 1939 – the movie advertised in the marquis is Gone With The Wind.
Blue Sky earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of South Carolina. While both a sculptor and a painter, his most famous piece remains the mural Tunnelvision in downtown Columbia. His work has appeared nationally – including in the Smithsonian – and among his many awards is South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, which he received in 2000.
The Old Darlington Public Square is listed in the National Register as part of the Darlington Downtown Historic District:
The Darlington Downtown Historic District is significant for its high level of architectural integrity and as an illustration of the significant periods of prosperity and building in Darlington. The district includes a collection of twenty-one contributing, intact commercial buildings associated with the growth of Darlington from ca. 1870 to ca. 1935. While significant periods of building and rebuilding are associated with the series of fires that swept through the city in 1866, 1892, and the 1930s, the buildings in this district also show the rise and fall of the city’s economy, especially as it relates to the production and sale of cotton and tobacco.
The one, two, and three-part commercial buildings exhibit typical turn-of-the-twentieth century building styles, with brick detailing and, in some cases, cast-iron storefronts. By 1870, Darlington County led the state in cotton production. The 1880s and 1890s saw a period of great growth for the Darlington area that included the opening of several local industries including a cotton mill and a cotton compress company. In the early twentieth century the economy shifted to tobacco, and the town of Darlington became one of the state’s largest tobacco markets. In the 1920s, overproduction and competition from international markets caused cotton and tobacco prices to drop, and the 1930s brought the Great Depression.