Downtown Takoma Park is putting on a new face, a striking mix of street murals and window paintings that is part of an effort to spruce up Carroll Avenue and the old business district.
About $1 million has gone into brick sidewalks, decorative lighting, tree grates, restoration of an old park with an ornate gazebo, and facade improvements.
Painted by resident artists Saundra Philpott and Geri Smith, the four window paintings on former plywood-covered eyesores are of the "trompe l'oeil" style, French for "fool the eye."
In a second-story window of Fred's Barber Shop, a gold cat peers through white curtains. A balding, bushy-eyebrowed "gentle giant" gazes from a brick window of Hoffman's Interiors. And in twin windows alongside the Takoma Grocery Market are two Spanish ladies, one clutching a veil to her mouth, the other cupping her hand in her chin. The most imposing mural promises to be the huge streetcar at the junction of Carroll, Grant and Ethan Allen avenues. Using a side of the High's convenience store as her canvas, Philpott is painting the finishing touches on the Victorian-era scene, which features a big red streetcar and a depot with an overhead signboard reading "Takoma Junction."