By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
One local artist has a plan to commemorate Boyne City’s founding with an enormous mural about the Millers, the family said to have founded Boyne City, and the Indian tribe they encountered.
Painter Jerry Douglas approached the Boyne City Main Street Board last week during the Feb. 2, main street meeting, with a plan to paint the founding of Boyne City on large wall along the Glen’s Market plaza in Boyne City.
“Boyne City is definitely blessed with a lot of historic buildings in our downtown district but we have this great story,” said Douglas. “This dramatic story of this family that moves up into the wilderness here in the middle of November and gets the whole thing started.”
He added, “Their relationship with the Ojibwa tribe – as soon as I started thinking of this I knew I wanted to represent them because it would seem so arrogant to talk about Boyne City’s founding as though there was nothing there before. There was a culture there a long long time before … longer than we’ve been here totally.”
Douglas approached the Boyne City Main Street Board for permission to begin fund-raising on this proposed project.
Former Boyne City Mayor Chuck Vondra, who attended the meeting, said he and Douglas have been discussing the idea of such a mural for a number of years.
“I’ve never been a real artsy guy, but I admired the mural when Jerry was painting the mushroom (on another mural Douglas painted,” Vondra said. “I’m a big fan and a huge supporter.”
Douglas said he will employ the help of several young artists who will act as interns.
“The idea is a positive message about Boyne City’s past, present and future,” he said. “It’s an idyllic scene … the family working together; the Indian natives approaching them; that is the entire community of that time – all of them were working together building a future.”
Douglas added, “So, it not only commemorates the founding of Boyne City but it says something about us as a community. It’s intended to be a positive message about who we are.”
At the center of the composition will be Harriet Miller, upon whose dream the family’s major life change occured.
“Based upon her dream, they dropped their life in New York and sold their farm and got on a steam ship and headed out west and ended up finding the cabin about what like she dreamed of,” Douglas said. “John Miller is the father of Boyne City. He’s in the foreground. The boys are working in the background.”
Douglas said the proposal is merely conceptual and could change.
Douglas said working on the mural will be an attraction in itself.
“This is the most ambitious mural project anyone’s ever proposed in Boyne City,” Douglass said, adding that figuring the cost to create the mural will be difficult.
The approximate cost will be $53,650 according to Douglas.
“I’m seeking funding sources,” Douglas said. “I’m not proposing Boyne City pay for the whole thing.”
Douglas said he was inspired to finish his concept after the last Boyne City Commission race because, he said, the candidates communicated a very positive present and future for Boyne City.
And, he said he chose the 148-foot long white wall along Vogel Street because it is large, blank and nearest to the original cabin site.
“It sits a little bit back from Lake Street,” he said. “The wall’s in pretty good shape (and) Vogel Street is a major artery. It’s an important cluster of businesses that occupy that building.”
Douglas added, “The building also lacks character. This mural would dramatically change that facility. It would be the focal point of north Boyne City and change that whole atmosphere.”
The guide explaining the mural would be an estimated 10 feet high by 15 feet wide.
Douglas said he could feasibly finish the mural over the course of a spring and summer.
Questions and concerns the board briefly discussed included whether any future owners of the building would retain the mural, and whether the proposed site is the best place for a historic mural.
The Boyne City Main Street Design Committee will discuss the matter further during its Monday Feb. 13, meeting.