Mike Page, Mike Fitzsimmons and Tom Houle | Duluth graffiti that wouldn’t fade away

PageFitzsimmonsHoule2010

I first took notice of this graffiti in the late 1980s. It’s on the side of the old West Duluth Hotel building, which for many years now has been home to the Italian Village, along with various other businesses.

I went to school with a guy named Mike Page and I always figured he was one of the culprits. The photo above was shot today, which illustrates the lasting power of spray paint on the side of a brick building.

PageFitzsimmonsHoule1982

The photo above was shot by Roger Nesje in 1982. It appears to be the same graffiti on the side of the building.

PageFitzsimmonsHoule1971

Mr. Nesje shot this one in 1971. It’s hard to tell for sure from this angle, but it looks like the same graffiti! That would rule out the Mike Page I grew up with.

Somewhere out there must be three very grown up guys who, if they are still alive and in Duluth, have to hate themselves for this. (Hopefully they weren’t framed! It would be a shame if three innocent people had their names infamously tarnished for decades … which is probably the case because it would take some serious balls to paint one’s own name in such a visible spot.)

Anyway, Mr. Nesje’s father or one of his aunts shot the 1935 photo below. No graffiti!

PageFitzsimmonsHoule1935

22 Comments

Spy1

about 9 years ago

Could be the Mike Fitzsimmons now known as "Paint Goggles," a mural artist. If so, this needs to be preserved.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Interesting theory. According to John "Broken Crow" Grider's Flickr account, ol' Paint Goggles collaborated with him and Eric Inkala, Isaac Arvold and Drew Peterson in 2008 on this mural in Duluth.



Anyone know where in Duluth this is?

Jeff

about 9 years ago

That seems odd to me. All graffiti is removable if you try hard enough. It seems more like a case of apathy toward the building than anything.

Roger Nesje

about 9 years ago

I do know that the two Mikes and Tom Houle are around and 58 years old at this time. In the black and white photo in 1971 the graffiti is there.

I do remember Mike Fitzsimmons and Mike Page as a kid, otherwise I know nothing about the graffiti. All I know is it appeared toward the end of the 1960s.

Don Giorgio

about 9 years ago

The Mike Page and Mike Fitzsimmons and Tom Houle are all still alive and well, and the Mike Page you know is the son of the graffiti maker of the same name.

Don Giorgio

about 9 years ago

Oh yes, those names were inscribed on the side of the building in the 1960s.

-Berv

about 9 years ago

What's up with the large shadowy face in the second window from the left?! Freaky!

Barrett Chase

about 9 years ago

This post is awesome. 

As far as it being removable, it seems like no one ever attempts to actually remove it. They just paint over it with brick colored paint, which wears off after a few years. I bet that serves to seal it in.

Barrett Chase

about 9 years ago

It doesn't seem like this is the Mike Fitzsimmons who is a muralist. But if it is, I wish he'd repay the citizens of West Duluth for his vandalism by painting a mural on the side of that building (keeping the original names intact of course and incorporating them into the design). That would really spruce this neighborhood up.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

One Facebook comment dates the incident as having occurred in 1965.



If they were punished back in the day, I'm sure it was nothing compared to 46 years of being reminded about it.

I almost feel bad about bringing it up, but I've been curious about this for 25 years, so it's nice to collect a few details on it.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

By the way, the large, shadowy face in the window appears to be just a reflection of something on a small U.S. flag, but it is kind of freaky.

Henry Jenkins

about 9 years ago

I'm not really sure, as I have only been in there once, but the 'Anyone know where this is?" Mural could be in that video game store up by the mall. I seem to remember them having someone paint the inside when they opened.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Thanks Henry! You are today's PDD MVP.

Don Giorgio

about 9 years ago

I find that the graffiti far from being vandalism. In today's day and age it is a landmark of West Duluth trivialities and should remain there as a reminder of a more enjoyable time in this part of the city.

Ron Nelson

about 9 years ago

Ahhhhh, good ole boys for sure, I did some time hanging with Mike and Fitz at Mike's house and Mudraks in West Duluth. Every time I see their names I smile and remember the good times we had. This graffiti is mild compared to what kids do today.

Henry Jenkins

about 9 years ago

I'm totally putting that on college applications, right below all my prestigious participation awards from Wednesday Night at the Races.

(Read "participation" as "82nd place.")

Chris

about 9 years ago

Thanks for clearing this up.  Like Paul I always assumed it was the Mike Page I graduated with in '90. I'm really surprised that it's been there that long.  It's aged very well, you'd think there would be hardly anything left after 40+ years.

Bob

about 9 years ago

I remember playing softball with Mike Page at the Beacon in the early 90s. I always thought it was him, so I told out-of-towners that I knew the guy that did it. Guess I don't. I'll let them think I still do.

Tim Resberg

about 9 years ago

I knew Mike Page and Tom Houle growing up and they were pillars of the West Duluth community.

squirrel

about 8 years ago

I know who Mike Page is. He is my old friend's stepfather. Ironically, the restaurant in the building he wrote his name on -- the Italian Village (I'm told it wasn't called that at the time) -- was owned by the family of the woman he later married. And no, he apparently did not know her at that time.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

I don't think there was a restaurant there when the names were painted on the building. Conito's Italian Village opened in the early 1980s; the graffiti is purportedly from the late 1960s. A few random businesses I found listed in city directories for 301 Central Ave. are:

Twin Ports Sewing Center (1975)
Arrowhead Dry Cleaners (1960)
Schellinger Jewelers (1950)
Murst's Jewelry Store (1944)

A few other years I looked up -- 1982, 1971, 1965, 1955 -- all list the place as "vacant."

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