The Mills Brothers to be honored with new mural


By Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — The Mills Brothers, Piqua’s African American musical pioneers, will be honored with a new downtown mural.

Lorna Swisher, of Mainstreet Piqua, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing downtown Piqua, explained the motivation for the new mural.

“This project has been in the works for years,” Swisher said. “We’re doing this mural because they were international recording artists and were a really big deal.”

The Mills Brothers were a vocal quartet, all born in Piqua, consisting of John Jr. (1911-1936), Herbert (1912-1989), Harry (1913-1982), and Donald (1915-1999). The group produced such hits as “Tiger Rag,” “Paper Doll,” and “You Always Hurt the One You Love.”

In the 1930s, the brothers moved to New York City, where they became the first African American singers to have their radio show called “Four Boys and a Guitar.”

In 1990, Piqua erected a monument on High Street south of the Piqua Public Library dedicated to the brothers, honoring their musical achievements.

Swisher feels this mural will be a fitting way to honor the brothers.

“They need to be recognized in a way that is appropriate because they were larger than life for our community,” Swisher said.

For the mural, which will be painted on the south side of Piqua National Bank across the street from Crooked Handle, the city commissioned Artisan Rooms, a mural artist business from Columbus.

“We wanted it to be an accurate representation of who they are because they are recognizable in the Piqua community. We were looking for a very specific type of artist, and when we got the rendering for this, we felt they nailed it,” Swisher said.

Swisher hopes that work can begin on the mural in March or April and that it will take six to eight weeks to complete.

The approximate budget for the mural is $56,500, but added that they have already received $34,500 through donations. Mainstreet Piqua seeks to make up the $22,000 deficit through grant applications and private fundraising.

Anyone interested in donating to The Mills Brothers mural can go to and click the donate button. Checks can also be made to Friends of Mainstreet Piqua at PO Box 1703, Piqua, OH 45356.

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