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Support Our Local Arts: Punta Gorda Murals
What do you envision when you think about art? Art evokes a wide variety of emotions and thoughts within an individual. In its most basic abstract definition, art is a documented expression of a sentient being through or on an accessible medium so that anyone can view, hear or experience it. One way to view and experience this is to explore the 27 murals located throughout Punta Gorda. You will be walking through and viewing the history of Punta Gorda in its most expressive form. Each one of the murals have their own story to tell and share with you. Below is just one of the many examples that can be found around Punta Gorda.
Artist: Skip Dyrda
PG Fire Station #1 1410 Tamiami Trl.
(Fireman Figures 1 through 7..left to right on balcony above)
This mural contains panels on the north and south inside bay walls of Fire Station #1 and captures a slice of our Fire Department history.
South Wall Panel: Features an outside balcony with figures showing our firefighting gear and technology through the years. Starting on the left – Figure 1 from the 1890’s, the bucket brigade was the best defense against fire until a major fire occurred in November 1895. The City of Punta Gorda then established an all-volunteer fire department through an ordinance on March 16, 1897.
The department was reorganized in the 1920’s through another ordinance adding some compensation for the firemen. The department consisted of a chief, assistant chief, and 10- 20 volunteer firemen. Figure 2 shows this volunteer wearing the jacket and helmet used through the 1940’s. The gear was generic and would be on the firetruck when it arrived at the scene and worn by whoever showed up to fight the fire. The hose was made of cotton and had to be hung to dry after each fire to keep it from rotting.
In the early 1950’s the department hired their first career firefighters — 3 men who rotated 24-hour shifts. Figure 3 depicts a full-time fireman dressed in the slicker or raincoat of the 1950’s and 1960’s with roll down hip boots that provided additional protection when fighting a fire. This figure pays tribute to long-time firefighter Lieutenant Kerry Sanford.
Figure 4 depicts an early version of the full coverage trousers and coat, and the helmet shield used in the 1970’s through the 1990’s. The department acquired breathing gear during this period that allowed them to begin fighting the fire from the inside.
Figure 5 shows the Fire Inspector, a key figure in the fire department in the early 1980’s. It was during this time that the department began serious efforts to bolster the department’s fire prevention division with more inspections and dedicated full time staff. Chief Naylor is pictured here and was the first full-time fire inspector prior to becoming Fire Chief.
Figures 6 and 7 represent current day dress and technology. The “City Fire” department is committed to supporting diversity in the department, hiring the first female firefighter in 2006 and the first African American firefighter in 2010 (who is also an Army vet). The department is honored to have several veterans on staff. The breathing apparatus and turn-out gear has changed significantly over the years.
North Wall Panel: In 1926 the original City Hall was torn down to make way for today’s City Hall on the corner of Harvey and Marion. It was completed in 1928 and housed our first firehouse – a two-truck garage and a second-floor apartment for the fire engine driver that was eventually used by the Fire Chief. This panel includes an old fire truck and pays homage to the dedicated volunteer firefighters of the time who left their jobs when the alarm went out. The “garage area” provides insight into the life of the volunteer firemen of the time. Chief Koon and his family lived in the upstairs apartment and is watching from the window.
Education has always been a key objective of the Mural Society. Punta Gorda Fire Station #1 is one of the most visited stations in the area. During Fire & Injury Prevention Month, 600-800 children from local schools pass through its doors each year receiving safety education from our dedicated Fire Department staff. Another 100+ adults attend various adult education seminars throughout the year as well.
The mural was dedicated on May 25, 2017.
The Punta Gorda Historical Mural Society (PGHMS) is a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Punta Gorda area through the beauty of mural art. The PGHMS relies on Community Support for mural funding. To learn more about the organization, the murals or to donate, please visit their website at www.puntagordamurals.org or on Facebook.