Local buildings bring town history to life

All photos by Dan Wentzel.



In case you haven’t been aware of the trend, small towns have beautified their old worn building with more than a new coat of paint. They have taken dull exteriors and created an artistic mural featuring historical events of their town’s history.


I only recently became aware that this is a trend all across our nation and even in various places throughout the world. Once you discover one of these breathtaking murals, you will start to notice them everywhere especially in small towns. Wisconsin is the first area that caught my eye with lots of these murals within short distances of each other and so many nearby towns that are following suit.




In a visit to Ashland, Wisconsin we found that the murals were the reason that town has made the National Registry of Historic Places. They have a walking tour of 18 different murals depicting scenes from the town’s own history. The walk can be self- guided using a brochure obtained from the Ashland Chamber of Congress. It is a site worth seeing in an easy 8 block tour.


In Ashland the murals were created by Kelly Meredith and Sue Martinsen. The first project began in the summer of 1998. The diverse subjects include the logging industry, the founding fathers of Ashland, the lighthouse keepers and town veterans. A fun fact is that all these murals depict historical figures or events but, feature updated faces of local residents.


This is a nice little town to visit with a few cute shops and this is a short stop or day trip worth including on your sightseeing jaunts.


Beautifying the towns makes perfect sense since many small towns are full of dilapidated buildings that were once an eyesore. Sharing the history that is just uniquely yours is great for tourists and residents alike. It would be such fun for people to show their delight at learning about history while seeing the faces of people they know and love today.


Most small towns today have little to bring tourists into their communities but, the murals seem to be a key to revitalizing the downtown areas of places you may not otherwise visit or enjoy. I hope to see many more of these as we travel around the country.


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