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The Making of a Mural

What is the result of combining a love of history with a love of community, then using a unique

talent to blend those inclinations together, and sharing that result with others? Dixie Olin, a

graphic artist, mural veteran, and 1973 Sparta High School graduate, did all of the above

when she created a mural of some hard-working local heroes on a wall across from the Sparta Library.

Dixie’s idea was well received by the Sparta Township Historical Commission. “While I have done quite a few murals, I was so impressed with their story, a really interesting challenge, and a great honor. These men, some coming home after WWII, created homes, foundations after a war that had shaken so many.”

Because the photo Dixie had chosen was relatively small, the mens’ faces, when enlarged to mural size, wouldn’t hold up. Consequently, Olin decided to sketch each of the eight faces, needing to capture what she saw in the original. “I see individuals with great skill and knowledge, with life experiences that seem to have left their mark, and together they pull as a team. That pulling together and comfort of community are even more coveted in the times in which we live today."

Her thoughts into words conveyed how this 1946 photo of eight Sparta men moved her. “As strong as they were as a group, I hope all will see the individuality of each man…strong personalities…very different stances…body language, clothing, and how they presented themselves on that day.

The mural process began in April of 2021. After considering a number of archival photos, Dixie confirmed that Sparta Builders Inc was her choice. Final details were ironed out this past September. Materials were secured in October. Painting commenced in November, and the pickup truck with three 4’x8’ panels rolled into Sparta on Nov. 25. A trip to the DPW for the application of graffiti melt, then the final mounting of the mural on the Research Center’s south wall took place on the 1st of December.

Some may think too much is being made of eight men who addressed a housing need in this era of practicality and necessity. Perhaps so, but just maybe this post-war synergy was another Greatest Generation (Thank you, Tom Brokaw) example of why this lofty nickname stuck. Says Olin, “These men are the spirit of Sparta and an example of how much stronger we are together than apart. What great things they accomplished! Their families and Sparta should take great pride in what they built-the power of community and friendships. Thank you for the opportunity to showcase this legacy.”

Our small town has a dozen, perhaps more Sparta Builders Inc homes. For a more complete story, go to


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