The Rock Rapids Mural Society was formed in 2002 to re-beautify the town and restore its historic past in artistic form. The group is financed by memberships, donations, sponsorship of murals, grants and fund-raisers.
The first mural was completed during Heritage Days 2002. The 21st mural was dedicated in November 2008.
The Society hopes to complete three murals each year. Several ideas and donations are being considered by the group.
There is an adage, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” How true.
There is a move underway to preserve the history of Rock Rapids in a unique and lasting way–the use of murals and window paintings to bring history alive. The idea for the facelifts was inspired by a trip that Sandy Wynia of Rock Rapids took to Toppinish, Washington, population similar to Rock Rapids. Murals have been painted on the sides and fronts of stores and other buildings depicting the area’s history. Not only do the murals provide an important history lesson, they have also put Toppinish on the map. People come from all over the United States to view the murals.
In Wynia’s words, “First, take a look at the buildings that are located downtown. Some of them, although they have two or three stories, only use the mail floor and the windows on the rest of the building are boarded up. It makes our once thriving town look neglected and defaced.
“Now, imagine the same windows with scenes of businesses or shops, or even what would be seen if you looked into an apartment in the same windows. What would be seen if you looked into an apartment in the same windows. What would you rather see?
“We have walls that are waiting to tell a story–if we are willing to do the work. The walls could tell stories about the industries, the struggles our forefathers made to make Rock Rapids, and even the pranks that took place in the ‘old days.’
“Our town should be proud of its history and by making murals showing the history of the town, we offer a way of keeping the history alive for future generations. We can have our history for all to see and enjoy 365 days of the year.
“Our long-range goals are to develop Rock Rapids into a tourist attraction. With murals on sides of buildings and on the windows, people traveling though would want to find out what the murals are about and would take the time to read the tributes that explain each one.
“It would be great to see Rock Rapids listed as a place to visit in the tourist pamphlets. A guided tour could be offered to take tourists all around our town to see the murals, our museum, etc.”