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History on the Walls

The Amazing Art of Eric Henn

Photos by Jim Cummings

Ever spotted a water tower with amazingly lifelike art on it and wonder who created it? Or as in the case of the photo above, been driving down Main Street in Franklin, Ohio to see wonderful scenes of yesteryear unfolding as you drive. They are the creation of Artist Eric Henn. His artwork dots the country including aquariums, theme parks, commemorative walls and of course water towers.

Franklin Ohio

The VFW - Post 7596 at 419 S. Main St.

An overview of the side wall of the building that faces the parking lot. Where visitors once parked against a blank wall they now park their cars next to a remarkable tribute to the men and women of the armed forces.


Detail of the center piece of the VFW wall.

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The Huntington Bank Wall





It is hard to separate the real from the painting. The landscaping in the front is real while the landscaping in the park scene comes from the brushes of Eric Henn.

Detail of the three arches on the bank wall


Henn’s talent is a natural one - with no formal education. His early work shows a young man’s passions for motorcycles and rock-n-roll. But as his subject matter progressed so did his projects and so did his equipment. Henn has scaled great heights on automatic lifts. He has hung over aquarium pools with sharks below. He has become a master at blending the real with the art. On one building in Centerville, Ohio there were unevenly spaced windows on the original structure. So Henn painted in a window in that empty spot that perfectly matches the real windows. And then he added a young girl in the window for that special touch.


It’s the 1950 again - let’s all meet at the diner!


In another twist of time it’s the 1950’s and cars, trucks and even a motorcycle are parked outside the local diner. But don’t try and pull in the lot - for you would only hit a brick wall.


Pepsi Cola was delivered by horse drawn vehicles until 1908 when they became the first soft drink company to use motorized vehicles.

On 6th Street just before Main street is a composite tribute to transportation. It faces just across the street from the original Franklin Train Depot. A train, a trolley an early automobile on the left while The Erie Canal, the Wright Brothers first flight and steamboats on Ohio’s Rivers round out this long sepia toned mural.


The Great Miami River runs through the town. The Erie Canal ran along “Canal Street” which is now Riley Blvd. It was the river and the canal that brought the paper mills to the area. They stretched from Dayton through Franklin, Middletown and Hamilton Ohio.

To see more of the work of Eric Henn visit


But of all the work in Franklin, Ohio it was this piece that struck an emotional cord with this photographer. The lions on the bridge brought back special childhood memories. Not everyone realizes that the actual lions are not the same - but that one is alert and the other is resting. That knowledge comes not from driving by them in today’s harried world but from walking past them going to school everyday. And back in the late 40’s when they were brought to Franklin it was the fire department, that helped place the lions on the bridge and when not fighting fires, it was Franklin’s first full time fireman - Bob Cummings that had the job of cleaning them.


We have covered only a small segment of this artist’s work. Visit his website at to see some amazing shots of Henn painting on unusual surfaces, on lifts high in the air and some great before and after shots.

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