Window Dressings Spruce Up Liverpool Ahead of All Class Reunion

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – With many thousands of Potter alumni expected to be arriving in town next week for the East Liverpool High School All Class Reunion, many projects are underway to spruce up the river city to not only honor its history but look toward its future.

Among the latest projects is dressing up windows in empty downtown storefronts to showcase some of the city’s on-going renovation plans and activities.

The project is the brainchild of Councilman Jeff Kreefer, 3rd Ward, and his wife Julie, who decided to find sponsors for the purchase of banners to dress up otherwise bare windows.

Alumna Gini Jackson has spearheaded a campaign to raise funding for the purchase of string lights for throughout the downtown to highlight the streets that Kreefer, a retired assistant fire chair, current and retired members of the fire department have been hanging.

“We were putting the lights up, and the (empty) storefronts looked so barren, I got the idea of covering the windows,” he said. 

After talking with his wife and also longtime Potter Alumni Association icon Frank Dawson, who “thought it was an excellent idea,” Kreefer began soliciting sponsors for the pictures.

With the cooperation of photographer Jimmy Joe Savage and Campbell’s Signs & Apparel in Glenmoor, photographs and drawings are being reproduced and sized to fit the windows.

Kreefer said the topics shown in the pictures are of recent activities, not historical. 

“We wanted things people would relate to, not things from 70 years ago. We wanted current events so people will walk by, and the pictures will put a smile on their faces. If you get things (pictured) that are too old, nobody can relate,” Kreefer said. 

In one Fifth Street building, for example, a window boasts a photograph of the 2022 East Liverpool High School graduating class while other windows surrounding it display depict architect illustrations prepared by a Pittsburgh design firm showing possible renovation ideas for the downtown. 

The site of the former Boardman Medical Center at the corner of Fifth and Market also now has colorful depictions of the renovation ideas in its windows as it awaits a new tenant.

Mayor Greg Bricker, found June 22 out of his office at City Hall, working alongside others renovating a downtown Market Street building, said the final revitalization plan by Urban Design Associates is expected to be completed sometime next month.

Kreefer said the pictures in the windows make empty buildings appear more marketable and aesthetically pleasing.

Bricker agreed.

“He’s doing a great job,” the mayor said. “We’d been trying to do window clings for two years. He and Gini [Jackson] have both run with (the project).”

Kreefer credited his wife and his colleagues past and present at the fire department, giving a special shout out to firefighters Alex Estell and Josh Coil for their extra efforts. 

“Without the guys at the fire station, we couldn’t have any of this done. No matter what I ask them to do, they do it,” Kreefer said.

The pictures must be designed specifically for each window so they fit perfectly. They will remain up even after the reunion until the buildings are sold or occupied. 

The current focus is on Fifth Street windows since it is the “main street” for the city, according to Kreefer. “We’ll do other streets as we can sell the banners,” he said.

Sponsors are being sought to pay for additional pictures. Kreefer estimates the cost $20 a running foot, giving as an example a four-foot display would cost $80. An “insignificant” fee is added for the Velcro needed to hang each picture. 

Anyone interested in sponsoring a banner should contact Kreefer at 330 843 4778.

While someone has already sponsored banners for the landmark Thompson Building in Devon’s Diamond, Bricker reported efforts are underway to secure a grant that could be used to save that iconic building, which has been vacant for some time.

The mayor said he recently walked through the city with some investors with an eye toward “selling downtown living.”

The city has received a $200,000 grant toward startup of an athletic complex, he reported. More details, including the proposed site for the complex, will be forthcoming, he said.

With these projects underway and others in the works, Bricker said, “We’re trying to showcase what we’re going to do while there are thousands of people here (for the reunion).”

The All Class Reunion takes place June 30 to July 2. It is held every five years and is sponsored by the East Liverpool Alumni Association.

The association was formed in 1986 as a project to build the Alumni Clock Tower on Fourth Street to house the clock and bell from Central School, which was razed in 1966. It has become the largest alumni organization in America, according to the East Liverpool Historical Society web site.

Pictured at top: Third Ward Councilman Jeff Kreefer, a retired East Liverpool assistant fire chief, and his wife Julie came up with an idea to fill empty storefront windows with colorful banners showing current activities and proposed city renovations.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.