Piece of Evanston history wiped clean
Officials moved forward Monday night on an ordinance that would set penalties for persons who damage or remove public murals without authority. Officials were responding to the erasure of a 110-foot mural that depicted Evanston historic figures at Greenbay and Emerson last month. (Photograph courtesy of Larry Suffredin)
Updated: December 23, 2012 6:16AM
EVANSTON — A hand-painted 110-foot mural at Emerson and Green Bay that depicted Evanston historical figures in a timeline has apparently been inadvertently painted over and the city is looking at options to replace it.
The folksy-style mural was painted on a Metra retention wall on Green Bay Road on the east side of Emerson Avenue.
Theodore Boggs, an Evanston Township High School graduate, created the mural, entitled, “A Loose History of Evanston,” as his senior studies project in 2002.
The mural traced a historical timeline of Evanston and depicted such beloved historical figures as District 65 Superintendents Dr. Joseph E. Hill and Oscar Moody Chute, prominent in the move to desegregate the city’s schools.
Members of the city’s Public Art Committee were told by Jeff Cory, the City’s Cultural Arts/Arts Director, that the landlord of the building thought the wall art was graffiti “and so he painted over it,’’ said Ryan Hall, chair of the committee, on Wednesday night.
“He didn’t know it was a city art piece and so he painted over it,” Hall said committee members were told at their meeting Tuesday night.
“He (the landlord) was very apologetic and he was very sorry,” committee members were told through Cory, Hall said. “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
Hall said the committee was told that the landlord, who was not identified, has pledged to commission another piece on that site or somewhere else in Evanston to make up for the error.
That isn’t good enough, said restaurateur Hecky Powell, whose restaurant is located on the other side of Green Bay across from the mural.
Powell said a crew had been at work, converting the space into a new home for a Hertz rental.
Powell said he confronted the landlord about the removal of the mural and was told the fault was that of a contractor unaware of its history.
“That’s some history,” Powell said he responded. “You guys should have asked before the contractor covered it up.”
Powell said he witnessed the hard work Boggs and fellow students put in painting the mural in the first place.
“As far as I’m concerned not a taxpayer’s dollar should go towards that (restoration), he said.
“First, they need to reimburse the city for what they have done,’’ he said. “They need to give money to the Arts Council, and I want them to pay the kids to do it again. And if they don’t, this community should boycott them.
“This is disrespectful to the community, to the total community.” He said any new project should also feature the student, Theodore Boggs, responsible for the project.
An employee working the desk at the new Hertz rental store on Thursday morning said Hertz was not responsible. “We moved in and it was painted,’’ he said.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, a longtime Evanston resident, snapped pictures of the mural recently to be included in an updated version of the League of Women Voters, “This is Evanston,’ handbook his wife is working on.
They were driving by the corner Friday, Nov. 2, when his wife looked over and reported, “The mural’s gone!”