Downtown buildings get spruced up in Seymour

Downtown buildings get spruced up in Seymour.

SEYMOUR – Visitors to the city’s Hamburger Fest this weekend might notice a few colorful changes in the downtown.

Five old buildings are getting some fresh coats of paint.

Sure, it isn’t the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. However, the guy painting it is named Michael.

"Appreciate the business owners actually putting the money into their buildings, improving it for the city," said the painter Mike Thomas.

Up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the last four weeks, Thomas has been scraping, sanding, caulking, priming and painting the building’s facades. It started with just one, but other owners quickly followed.

He has even restored some of their ornate designs – splashing the intricate wood and tin with hues of green, yellow and purple.

"The architect that - at the time of building it - took the time to put those textures on the building, and for years, all the buildings down here were just plain, one color," said Thomas.

Growing up on a farm, Thomas says portrait or still life painting was never his thing. Mostly because painting the barns and sheds was more chore than art.

"My mom always brought that up to me when I started as a painter, she said, 'You never liked it as a kid - why would you do it now?' I'm like, well, because I'm getting paid for it now."

And changing his hometown's landscape.

"Down here, we're trying to promote the smaller businesses," said Seymour Mayor Judy Schuette.

Schuette says the city has been trying to change the view of downtown and the touch-ups will go a long way. Especially for a city that, interestingly enough, doesn't have a hometown burger joint exclusively dedicated to its claim to fame, but more than a handful of vacant storefronts. Painting the city as a quaint place to do business and maybe – hopefully one day Schuette says – luring someone to set up shop in the city, giving the hamburger a place to call home, once again.

"So, I think by making them attractive, some of your smaller businesses will pick up and locate here. We sure hope so," she said.

Despite claims from other states like New York, Connecticut, Texas and Oklahoma, Seymour has claimed to be the home of the hamburger for 129 years.

In 2007, the state legislature – without bias – anointed Seymour.

Hamburger Fest runs from Friday afternoon through Sunday.