In 2001 Terence Henderson and Caroline Owens purchased their home at 412 Park St.

The bland, beige stucco building was the fifth house in a row of great Victorians, but it had been stripped of all its Victorian charm. It stood, an ugly wallflower, shoulder to shoulder with its manicured neighbors.

“We couldn’t decide what to do with the exterior.” recalls Henderson. “I hate stucco, but it was too much of a night-mare to transform it back to a traditional Victorian. We vacillated. Finally, a storm trashed the only piece of wood clinging to the building. The upstairs shutters blew off into the night, leaving a pair of rabbit-eared patches. Things were looking grim for the beige stucco.”

Shortly after the storm, Owens happened to drive by a mural on a building in Green Avenue. The painting—of the garden full with strawberries—beckoned to her.

Aha, she smiled, there’s the solution to the beige blob.

The couple called the muralist, Abigail Griffin. She showed up at their front door soon thereafter, brimming with imagination. The first step toward the creation of the tropical mural that now graces their house’s facade had been taken.

Both Henderson and Owens wanted a picture of a natural setting, a mountain or forest environment where all the animals dwelled together. And their three children Danny, Steve and Anna, thought that having the only house in Durant with a tropical forest was a splendid idea.

The painter agreed to paint rainforest but she said that the tropic floor is vast, with lots of different habitats and fauna, so she needs specifics.

Henderson, however, insisted he had “absolutely no knowledge of landscape painting,” and wanted “to let Griffin fly with her ideas and stay out of it.”

Griffin decided to photograph the house, and then superimpose her artistic ideas over it. It took a month and a half of finite planning and drawings before the first splash of color washed over the stucco in late January.