One of the great benefits of living in a small community is witnessing how residents will rally to support specific causes, goals or projects. Eleven years ago, the residents of Algoma threw their support behind what then seemed an unlikely project: the creation of large-scale murals on walls throughout their downtown district.
Conceived as part of the Algoma Main Street Program’s historic preservation efforts, and with the full support of local government and business leaders, the community determined the murals should honor the city’s history and local businesses that existed prior to 1960 and played an integral role in economic development of the region.
The next step was contacting The Walldogs, an international group of sign and mural painters, to assist with the design and execution of artwork. At the time, Algoma was fortunate to have Dave Petri, a Walldogs member, living in their community. With his help, various Walldog members from as far away as Connecticut came to help with the project.
Even with the help of the Walldogs, none of the murals would have reached fruition without considerable help from the community: whether it was providing room and board for out-of-town Walldog members, donating money or actually helping to paint the murals. As one resident stated, “On one Saturday, we had about 65 residents, none of them professionals by any means, all working on one of the murals. Most were there the entire day, giving up their Saturday to help finish the mural. It was remarkable.”
While sport fishing may be the dominant industry today, the city’s commercial fishing and shipping traditions played a vital role in Algoma’s development. Project leading artist: Dale Knaak, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Honoring another business from days gone by. Project leading artists: David & Susie Butler, Syracuse, Indiana.
Algoma is recognized throughout the Midwest as a premier sport fishing destination and the sport fishing industry is an important part of the city’s economy. Project leading artist: Andy Goretski, Tomahawk, Wisconsin.
Frank Kohlbeck & Sons is one of several murals honoring significant businesses from the city’s past. Project leading artist: Cameron Bortz, Pawcatuck, Connecticut.
Algoma Net Company remains one of the city’s leading local manufacturers, whose products today include handcrafted hammocks and chairs. Project leading artist: Michael Clark, Aledo, Illinois.
One of the largest murals, prominently located near the waterfront, honors Algoma’s Native American past. Project leading artist: David Petri
The “Big Jim” mural honoring Algoma’s steam heritage is one of the few murals not painted directly onto the building. Because of its size and the height at which it was mounted, this mural was painted on the ground before being set into place. Project leading artist: David Petri, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
A favorite of train enthusiasts, this mural combines elements of art, history and historic advertising styles. Project leading artists: Bill & Jane Diaz, Pontiac, Illinois.