State Street businesses begin to take boards down, look forward to future

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 9:48 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:22 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - If you’ve taken a trip down State Street in downtown Madison recently, you may have noticed less plywood blanketing storefronts.

Plywood boards have been up on businesses for months amid unrest in Madison, with nearly 100 of them turning into murals.

Some people downtown said they would miss the art, while others say they just want State Street to go back to normal.

Daylight is making its way into some State Street storefronts for the first time in months.

“It’s kind of nice to have the storefronts back, but I liked the murals. Either way it’s kind of nice,” Kate Wallner, UW-Madison student said.

It’s become a typical scene downtown: windows and doors covered in plywood as business owners braced for potential unrest last summer and ahead of the inauguration.

“All the other people who contributed art, it was definitely really lovely,” Synclaire Rowen, State Street visitor said.

Plywood became a canvas last summer. Local artists transformed the boards to vibrant murals calling attention to racism and police brutality.

”I think State Street with the murals is really beautiful. It made an impact and hopefully the meaning behind them isn’t gone and it sticks around in other ways,” Wallner said.

Taking boards up and down became routine for restaurant owner Joe Perkins.

“What’s different for me is I’m not boarding up anymore. I’m going to start taking braces down,” Perkins said.

He said less plywood could mean more business.

“People already told me ‘I’m not coming down with boards on the windows,’” Perkins said.

“I could see some people being happy like ‘oh our state street is back. We can see inside the stores and we can window shop, but on the surface level that’s not nearly as important as a reason why the boards went up in the first place,” Rowen said.

Reopening State Street is a new beginning for some. Others said it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come.

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