WADSWORTH — A downtown mural project seeking to add splashes of color and highlights of city history throughout Wadsworth’s downtown is already making headway.
Local engineer Randy Toddy, who said two major murals are set to go up by the end of summer, is heading up the Main Street Wadsworth project.
Local artist Paulette Grubb of Wadsworth will complete the first mural in one of the alleyways at the north end of town.
Grubb’s work will feature a series of five vignettes depicting historic scenes of Americana, such as the electric streetcar and Silver Creek Mine.
According to the city website, Silver Creek Mine operated in Wadsworth, and during the 1880s one day, shipped more than 1,100 tons of coal, setting a record “which was never known to be broken.”
Toddy said Grubb will donate her time and talent to the project.
Another mural at 141 Main St. will pay homage to major businesses from Wadsworth history such as the Ohio Match Co., the Ohio Injector Co. and Wadsworth Salt Co.
“Our committee chose the winning artwork, and at this point we have got a very large mural to be added to our Subway building on the south end of town,” Toddy said Thursday.
Toddy said the mural will be the second one completed this year, painted in August by Iowa-based mural artist Ben Schuh.
“He is a professional muralist, nationally renowned and we will be paying for his time and effort on that particular project,” Toddy said.
Main Street Wadsworth Executive Director Adrianne Krauss said the mural project will still be active when the city begins its upcoming downtown streetscaping project.
“Both efforts complement each other because they are transforming the downtown into a destination environment where people love to gather, shop, dine, work, live and play, all while maintaining and preserving its charming and historic character,” Krauss said in an email Thursday.
Toddy said Main Street Wadsworth is seeking to nail down its mural projects for next year, and that he has identified sites for at least 16 additional downtown murals. This is in addition to requests from local business owners.
Toddy said there is no firm timeline for when the downtown mural project will be completed, but said it could be an ongoing project for about 10 years.
“We are having business owners and building owners ask us, ‘Hey, can you put a mural here, here and here,’ that we wouldn’t even necessarily have identified as a potential site,” he said.
Krauss said Main Street will continue to work closely with the city of Wadsworth as the project progresses through the years.
“The city of Wadsworth is partnering very closely with us in our downtown revitalization efforts, and the relationship between the city government and our nonprofit has never been stronger,” she said.
Mayor Robin Laubaugh said the mural project is an exciting project for downtown.
“Murals have been suggested over many years by various individuals, but it is the recent work of Main Street, and in particular the Mural Committee of Main Street, that the recent research and effort have been made,” Laubaugh said in an email Thursday.
“Combined with the streetscape improvements, the city will have a nice fresh look over the next several years,” Laubaugh added.
Toddy said he has visited several cities and towns throughout Ohio that have a mural program, including Steubenville, Massillon and communities in the Columbus area.
“Actually, my wife makes the comment that I probably have 100-plus pictures of other cities murals on my phone,” he said.
Toddy said he actually envisions an art walk of sorts with maps outlining the different murals throughout the city for people to enjoy as the project continues to grow.
“That is kind of what we envision in Wadsworth long term,” Toddy said.
The project will be funded by grants and private donations.
Toddy said donations of all sizes are welcome and accepted. There are also designated levels of sponsorship that include a $100 bronze level, $500 silver level, $1,000 gold level and platinum level for donations of more than $5,000.
The murals will vary in cost, depending on size. According to Grubb’s application, her mural will be scanned from the original work and printed on vinyl. The estimated cost is $1,200-$2,000.
“Whatever we raise through the grants and private donations is going into a general mural fund and anything that would be left over from this year’s fundraising efforts would just be held for use on future murals,” Toddy said.
Toddy said at some point during the project he would like to include student artists from Wadsworth High School, perhaps creating an entire alley of murals completed by students through the years.
Krauss said a few passionate volunteers can make all the difference in a downtown, and she appreciates Toddy taking on a leadership role with the mural project.
“Randy is a fantastic example of the support we are receiving from our community to revitalize the downtown,” Krauss said.
“He jumped in and decided to take charge of a project that interests him, and that is how these wonderful downtown projects happen.”