Wittenberg suffers many of the usual ills of a small rural burg: businesses folding in downtown, leaving empty decaying buildings and decreased traffic because of a Highway 29 bypass.
Nonetheless, there are many positives: a core of residents with pride in where they live, a friendly atmosphere and a few solid employers. One key in revitalization is to bring visitors into the community.
The spark for new direction came from Lois Smith, widow of Darwin Smith, CEO of Kimberly-Clark from 1971 to 1991. She lives on a 600 acre farm just outside of town, loves Wittenberg and wants to see it thrive.
She visited Lake Placid, Florida, a similar town with identical problems and saw what adding 30 murals had done there for tourism and businesses and brought this idea back to Wittenberg.
In the summer of 2005, a group of interested residents came together and created Walls of Wittenberg, Inc., a 501-c-3 organization whose mission is "to bring out the beauty and unique character of the Wittenberg area in a way that revitalizes the downtown, honors the history of the area, and attracts visitors."
Together, this group, open to any interested individual, has supported the painting of more than 18 murals. Private contributions and local fund-raising have paid for the murals. Business owners are asking to have a mural on their walls.
For further information please visit Walls Of Wittenberg.