Driving over the Main Street bridge, just north of Page Street, passengers can see the Stoughton mural overlooking the Yahara River. In 1997, using soft colors, running water and the Norwegian Dancers, artist Mel Butor painted Luke and Elza Stoughton looking forward to the future, and their children looking back on the achievements of the past, representing 150 years of Stoughton’s history.
In addition to Butor and the four orchestrators of the mural, the entire community of Stoughton participated. In September, the city will add an honorary thank-you plaque to the Stoughton bridge.
“Stoughton has a lot of pride in itself,” said Richard Lazzaro, former project director for the mural. “It is important for people to understand that this community is supportive.”
The dark-plated marker will tentatively thank: Jean Reek, who proposed the idea; Lazzaro, Richard Albright, assistant director; Alan Zelm, associate director; Lois Pieper, historical researcher; Butor and the Stoughton community.
More than 20 years ago, Reek, the founder of the Stoughton Norweigian Dancers, proposed the idea for the mural. One year later, Stoughton raised $58,000 to create a piece of art that would depict the “history, culture and traditions ... that collectively made us a unique community,” according to the mural description.
“All the business and individual donations were from Stoughton,” Lazzaro said.
The structure for the mural was donated by a local business and organizers applied for a $7,000 grant from the Dane County Cultural Fairs Commission. Special paint was imported from Germany in order for the colors not to fade.
The goal is for the thank-you plaque to be secured to the bridge before the Art Walk in September.
For more history on the Stoughton Historical Mural, visit the Stoughton Public Library.