From Finland to Fort Bragg

Artist: Lauren Sinnott

The new history mural by Lauren Sinnott illustrates the rich heritage of the many Finnish immigrants to this coastal northern California town.

The mural contains portraits of real people, past and present, and images of the functional and often beautiful structures built by the Finnish families to house their activities and make it easy to get work done and have fun.

For example, the Finns built a huge hall (7,500 sq. ft.) in order to put on concerts, throw parties, present lectures and stage plays. Its name was Toveri Tupa, or Comrades’ Hall. But tupa translates as “cottage” so it meant something more like the Comrades’ cozy living room. After all, nobody had an actual living room that could receive several hundred guests.

The Finns were the biggest immigrant group coming to and creating Fort Bragg. There was a large “Finn Town” in the eastern part of the city, as well as settlements on Pudding Creek, Tunnel Hill, and Noyo Hill. Also in Comptche, a bit farther away. These communities built their own halls and schools, often reached by crossing a walking bridge suspended over rivers.