Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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New artwork to be displayed at River Raisin battlefield park

Painting shows stockade from War of 1812 era


Dan Downing, chief of interpretation, education, and operations at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, said the painting will be on display soon. All art at the park must be historically accurate.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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MONROE — Well in time for its upcoming art show, the River Raisin National Battlefield Park has a new historical painting depicting a scene from the War of 1812 era.

The artwork, called The Wayne Stockade, shows a wooden-walled fortification that stood on the north side of the River Raisin more than 200 years ago, in what today is Monroe. It would have been located on Elm Avenue, just east of where St. Mary’s Catholic Church is, according to Frances Maedel, the Monroe artist who did the piece so she could donate it to the park.

The painting joins the park’s permanent collection. Historical accuracy is a requirement for any art on display at the park’s visitors center. “It was a challenge,” said Mrs. Maedel, who is 91 and started painting as a young girl. “There were only written descriptions, and I did a lot of research.”

But with the help of local historians, she pieced together a physical description of the stockade and learned its history. The fortification was built in 1807 and burned down by the British five years later when they took Detroit in the War of 1812. It was named in honor of Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne.

“He had nothing to do with building it,” Mrs. Maedel said. “He was responsible for a string of stockades across Ohio, but he had nothing to do with this one."

The stockade, she said, was a refuge where the residents of Frenchtown, as the settlement was known, sought protection in times of danger. Nobody lived there.

“It was constructed of logs 12 to 15 inches in diameter. They would have been 16 feet long because they were buried four feet in the ground and the walls were 12 feet high,” Mrs. Maedel explained. “There were two block houses on opposite corners, and one was a little larger than the other. Originally, only one of them had openings for firing. One opening was large enough for a cannon, and the other was for a rifle.”

Dan Downing, chief of interpretation, education, and operations at the park, said The Wayne Stockade soon will be on public display.

The park will host Remember the Raisin Art Extravaganza from Aug. 10 through Sept. 2. It will feature the winners of an art competition whose entries must relate to the War of 1812 era and will be judged for historical accuracy, said Becky Mullins, the exhibit organizer.

“No photographs exist from that era,” she said, “so it’s important to give people something to look at so they can relate to that period and see what life was like around Frenchtown.”

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