New murals downtown trace Sunnyvale’s history

Waves, smiles, honks and even a serenade by a guitarist all helped encourage muralist Morgan Bricca, who stood atop a 15-foot scaffolding in front of the downtown Goodwill store this month delicately painting the history of Sunnyvale.

From its agricultural days to the innovations of NASA Ames and Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale’s story is being captured and displayed in three 30-foot-long murals in the middle of downtown.

The Sunnyvale Goodwill at E. Washington and S. Sunnyvale avenues had the opportunity to completely change its look, with Goodwill stores being renovated throughout Silicon Valley.

Giant faded blue awnings are now gone and instead of a rather colorless façade, the building now pops with warm hues of tan and a rusty orange. And with the help of Bricca, three vibrant murals help transport downtown patrons back in time to the Sunnyvale of yesterday.

Contractors hired by Goodwill reached out to Bricca and the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum to help design and execute the murals.

Bricca, who has been painting murals for 14 years and averages 30 a year, said the project is one of her largest undertakings, one filled with unique challenges such as getting detail to come through the course stucco of the building.

Since last summer, Bricca and the contractors worked with museum volunteer Johan Koning on the design and dug through file cabinets upon file cabinets of photos for inspiration.

Three separate panels on the building feature three separate eras in Sunnyvale. The first, at the front of the building, represents early Sunnyvale with farmers watering their fields via a horse-drawn water wagon next to blossoming cherry trees.

Another panel is about the railroads and early industry, and features Hendy Ironworks and vintage cars.

The final panel will be about the history of NASA and innovation in Sunnyvale, with a huge zephyr in the foreground that will be completed in early April.

Koning said they worked together to make the murals as historically accurate as possible.

“It fits nicely downtown because Hendy Ironworks, the canneries, the train depot, were all right here in this area, within walking distance of one another,” Koning said. “It is an important area to feature something like this.”

Bricca agreed and said that she was thankful for all of his help on the project.

“I do a lot of private murals and some for schools, but I only do one public mural a year, and I forget how fun it is, but this particular community and spot has been amazing,” Bricca said. “I love my job. I love being up here. I’m so happy to spread that joy and give something to a community that celebrates its history.”