Antonio Caparello's Civil War mural is hard to miss for any visually inclined pedestrian or driver heading north on U.S. 41.
Though the massive painting, which measures 87 feet wide and 18 feet tall, is clearly visible today, it was for many years sandwiched in the alley between Patricia's Boutique and Carlton's Grocery & Market.
"You couldn't see it unless you were stopped in traffic," said Gary Wilson, a retired physician and part of a core group of volunteers at First United Methodist who have been working for the past three years on the Brooksville Common project.
Once the lot at 31 S. Broad St. was cleared, the "wall took on a new life," and the mural "exploded," Wilson said
Wilson, who has been acting as spokesman for the project, said he and his co-volunteers — Dave Milliman, Joe Mason and Gene Manuel — have been working "nonstop" to make the vision a reality.
Brooksville Common will draw on downtown Brooksville's "charm," and create a space for residents to interact, whether it be playing checkers or eating lunch together or passing time in meditation or prayer.
Wilson said the site will memorialize family members through etched brick pavers that will form a cross, and a planned pavilion is expected to attract hundreds of weddings.
Also planned for the grounds is a "tree of life" sculpture and a statue of the Ten Commandments, as well as a space to view Caparello's mural.
Donors from as far away as Hawaii have purchased the bricks, according to Wilson, who said the local community has had an enthusiastic response as well. The space will be available for both secular and religious groups of any denomination, for services, outdoor baptisms and other gatherings.
The space was home to a Presbyterian church in the early 20th century, and a Baptist church across the street and Methodist church next door made the area "church central," according to Wilson.
Wilson said the project is aiming to be completed by Christmas 2013 and that about half of the necessary funds have already been raised through the purchase of memorial pavers and sponsors. Wilson said the church expects to have enough money raised in the next two to three months to apply for the building permits, but that construction won't start until the project is fully funded.
"Fifty years from now, we hope people come and find pavers of their family members," Wilson said.
More information on the Brooksville Common is available by calling (352) 796-3363, or go to http://fumcbrooksville.webs.com/brooksville-common.
A video explaining the project is also available at http://youtube.com/watch?v=SsbPdsZb67E.