Friday, December 28, 2012

Heald Square Monument

Heald Square Monument
Location: Wacker Drive at Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Dedication: December 15, 1941
Medium: Bronze
GPS Coordinates: N 41° 53.251 W 087° 37.615

Heald Square is located at the intersection of East Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue in Chicago. The square is named for Nathan Heald, an officer in the United States Army during the War of 1812. Heald was in charge of Fort Dearborn during the Battle of Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812. Heald and his wife barely escaped with their lives as a band of Potawatomi attacked the fort and burned it to the ground. Heald Square became part of the Chicago Park District in 1934, but the ownership was transferred to the City of Chicago as part of the Second Functional Consolidation Act in 1959.

The Lorado Taft Heald Square Monument is an 11 foot high bronze image of three Revolutionary War heroes standing on a six foot high granite base. George Washington is the central figure. Washington is flanked by Haym Salomon on his left and Robert Morris on his right. Robert Morris was born in Liverpool, England, on January 20, 1734. He moved to Oxford, Maryland, at the age of 13 to live with his father who was a tobacco farmer. His father later sent him to Philadelphia where he apprenticed at the shipping and banking firm owned by Charles Willing. After becoming a partner in the reorganized shipping and banking firm of Willing & Morris at the age of 18, Morris became a very wealthy and prominent businessman in Philadelphia. He became politically active in 1765 when he served on a committee established to oppose the Stamp Act. From 1775 to 1778, Morris represented Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress. In 1776, he loaned $10,000 of his own money to the government when the Continental Army lacked the funds to continue fighting the war. He devised a plan for a National bank and submitted it to Congress in 1781. Morris was one of only two patriots to sign all three of the important founding documents of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and The United States Constitution.

Haym Salomon was born in Leszno, Poland, in 1740. His parents had been driven out of what is now Portugal by anti-Semitic laws decreed by the monarchy. When Salomon was a young man, he fled to Holland during a period of mob violence against Jews. He traveled throughout Europe in the 1760’s and became fluent in several languages. He returned to Poland in 1770, but had to flee again in 1772 because he was involved in Poland’s nationalism effort. Salomon immigrated to New York City in 1775 and became a financial broker. He sympathized with the anti-British forces and joined the Sons of Liberty. The British arrested him for spying in 1776 and again in 1778. He then moved to Philadelphia and resumed his brokerage business. Salomon opened an office as a dealer of bills of exchange, bonds sold to provide funds for the Revolutionary War effort, and arranged for a loan to help George Washington pay his soldiers. Salomon and Morris collaborated to become effective brokers of bills of exchange to meet federal government expenses. Unfortunately, Salomon died penniless shortly after the Revolutionary War, having donated everything he owned to the war effort. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in 1975 hailing Salomon as a “Financial Hero of the American Revolution.”

The scourge of anti-Semitism invaded the United States after the Civil War. During the first decades of the twentieth century, Jewish quotas were imposed at many colleges and universities. The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, restricting the number of Jews entering the United States, was passed in 1924. Anti-Semitism reached its peak in the 1930’s when more than one hundred anti-Jewish groups were organized. Father Charles W. Coughlin of Royal Oak, Michigan, was one of the leading disseminators of Jewish hatred on nationwide radio, and the Ku Klux Klan was formed in the 1920s. Henry Ford believed that Jews were responsible for starting wars in order to profit from them. His rants against the “international Jewish community” were embraced by Adolph Hitler and reprinted in Nazi propaganda publications.

Barnet Hodes, a Chicago attorney and head of the Chicago Department of Law, led an attempt to curb the rise of Anti-Semitism in Chicago when he created the Patriotic Foundation of Chicago on July 4, 1936. Hodes defined the purpose of the foundation: “Leaders in every walk of life and representatives of every cultural group have confirmed the conviction that a major contribution to patriotism, historical knowledge, and understanding of the part played by peoples of various nationalities in the building of America will be made by the erection in Chicago of an appropriate memorial symbolizing the cooperation that George Washington received from Haym Salomon and Robert Morris.” Of Polish Jewish heritage, Hodes had read about the financial contributions that Jewish patriot Haym Salomon had made to the American Revolution and planned to honor him. However, Hodes felt that a commemorative statue of Salomon standing alone would not deliver the message of inter-cultural cooperation as effectively as a sculpture with non-Jewish patriots like George Washington and Robert Morris.

Barnet Hodes chose Lorado Taft to design the Heald Square Monument, and a campaign to raise $50,000 to complete the project was launched. Taft completed a small study model of the monument that depicted Robert Morris and Haym Salomon standing hand-in-hand with George Washington. Taft unfortunately died in 1936, but his work was completed by three of his students, Leonard Crunelle, Nellie Walker, and Mary Webster. The face of Washington was modeled after the 18th century bust of him by Jean Antoine Houdon. The inscription on the base of the sculpture is a quote from George Washington who based his comments on part of a letter written in 1790 by Moses Seixas, a member of a Newport, Rhode Island, Hebrew congregation. It reads: “The government of the United States which gives to bigotry no sanction to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it in all occasions their effectual support.” For the back of the base of the sculpture, Taft designed a bronze plaque with Liberty stretching out her arms to welcome all persons of whatever race and belief.

The Heald Square Monument was dedicated on December 15, 1941. The date was chosen to coincide with Bill of Rights Day, a nationwide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The fact that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, added additional significance to the dedication ceremonies. Barnet Hodes formally presented the Heald Square Monument to the City of Chicago and said: “Robert Morris and Haym Salomon tell us that civilian cooperation and civilian sacrifice with the military and naval forces was no less important in the first days of our Republic than it is today. Joined with the indomitable Washington, they will stand here to remind us that America became the America we love because there was that working together between civilians and soldiers without which no war can be won. It is the fervent hope of those who made this monument possible that all who see it, today and through the years to come, will catch from it and be constantly inspired by this crucial lesson from the past.”

Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly observed: “George Washington and his friend, Robert Morris were Christians. Haym Salomon was a Jew. These three, though of widely different walks of life, labored together in a common cause in order that the American way of life, as we know it today, might be guaranteed to future generations of other Americans, the right to live as free men knowing no master, alive to their own opportunities, yet tolerant and sympathetic toward others. To my mind, this typifies the very spirit of America.” Illinois Senator Scott Lucas referred to the three figures on the monument as representing “the ideals we reaffirm in a challenging world. Different as day and night, yet these three men held as one the torch of liberty, worshipping God, each in his own way, each daring the hangman tyrant’s halter in the cause of that new light of the world – democracy. From this monument we take courage and hope. We rise in the image of these three men to shield the light of liberty from extinction, to keep our country what they helped to make it – the permanent abode of sacred freedoms, the greatest of which is the freedom of man’s religious soul.” The Heald Square Monument became the first sculpture designated as a Chicago Landmark by the Chicago City Council on September 15, 1971.

For further reading:

Bach, Ira J. & Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide To Chicago’s Public Sculptures.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Barnard, Harry. “This Great Triumvirate Of Patriots:” The Inspiring Story Behind Lorado Taft’s Chicago Monument To George Washington, Robert Morris And Haym Salomon. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1971.

Fast, Howard. Haym Salomon: Son of Liberty. New York: Julian Messner, 1941.

“George Washington-Robert Morris-Haym Salomon Monument Was Dedicated In Wake Of Pearl Harbor Attack.” Chicago Jewish History. Vol. 25, No. 4, 2001.

Graf, John & Steve Skorpad. Chicago’s Monuments, Markers, and Memorials.
Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

“Monument to Haym Salomon to be Dedicated in Chicago Today.” Jewish Telegraphic History. December 15, 1941.

Rappleye, Charles R. Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Riedy, James L. Chicago Sculpture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

Schwartz, Laurens R. Jews and the American Revolution: Haym Salomon and Others. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Publishers, 1987.

Wenger, Beth S. “Sculpting an American Jewish Hero: The Monuments, Myths, and Legends of Haym Salomon” in Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America. Deborah Dash Moore and S. Ilan Troen, eds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Young, Christopher J. “Barnet Hodes’s Quest to Remember Haym Salomon, the Almost-Forgotten Jewish Patriot of the American Revolution.” The American Jewish Archives Journal. December 2011.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lorado Taft's Dream Museum

Lorado Taft had long envisioned the creation of a Dream Museum, a building dedicated to the exhibition of casts of all the greatest sculptures from all over the world. Taft had always been very interested in art education, and hundreds of sculpture students learned their artistic skills from the master. However, educating students about sculpture was not enough for Taft; he wanted to give them the chance to see and enjoy examples of sculpture in person. Taft also strongly believed in the proper lighting for sculptures. Once when he was lecturing in the Midwest, he observed a perfectly lighted cast of the Venus de Milo. This revelation of the beauty of this masterpiece bathed in proper lighting strengthened his passion: a Dream Museum containing casts of the greatest sculptures of the world arranged in sequence.

One possible site for a Dream Museum was the Palace of Fine Arts or the Fine Arts Building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Unlike the other buildings from this Chicago World’s Fair, this structure was constructed with a brick substructure under its white plaster façade. It originally housed the Columbian Museum, later the Field Museum of Natural History. The site was left vacant when a new Field Museum was opened near downtown Chicago in 1920. Taft led a campaign to raise funds to restore the building and convert it into his Dream Museum. City officials authorized the expenditure of five million dollars to restore the building. Unfortunately, while Taft and his wife were traveling in Europe, philanthropist Julius Rosenwald changed the focus of the project. The Fine Arts Building became the Museum of Science and Industry instead.

In the early 1930’s, Taft approached officials from Los Angeles and suggested that his Dream Museum be built on a site in Griffith Park. He received help from his brother-in-law Hamlin Garland and Los Angles Times publisher Harry Chandler. Taft went on the lecture circuit to generate financial support for his Dream Museum. The museum would have cost two million dollars back in the 1930’s. The museum staff organized a premature groundbreaking ceremony on February 9, 1934, and Taft dug out the first shovel of dirt. Because of the Great Depression and Taft’s declining health, sufficient funding never materialized for the construction of his Dream Museum.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Crusader: Victor Lawson Monument
Location: Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois
Erected: 1931
Medium: Granite
GPS Coordinates: N 41° 57.498 W 087° 39.505

Graceland Cemetery is located at 4001 North Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois, and was founded in 1860 by Thomas Bryan, a successful Chicago lawyer and businessman. Bryan hired landscape architect H. W. S. Cleveland to develop the original sixty acres of land and to turn it into a park similar to the cemeteries of Victorian England. Park designer and landscape architect Ossian Simonds was contracted to create a final plan for the cemetery when additional acres were later added. Simonds was a founding partner of the architectural firm of Holabird, Simonds, and Roche that designed all the buildings for the cemetery. Using native plants to enhance the rustic landscape in the cemetery, Simonds created an agrarian parcel of land with room for memorial markers and picnics--a green area for the living and a final resting place for the dead.

Graceland Cemetery officials often described it as “The Cemetery of Architects.” Architects Louis Sullivan, John Root, Daniel Burnham, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, William Le Baron Jenney, Marion Mahony Griffin, Bruce Goff, Fazlur Khan, Richard Nickel, and Dwight Heald Perkins were all buried in Graceland Cemetery. Other Chicago luminaries buried there include George Pullman, Potter Palmer, Jack Johnson, Martin Ryerson, William Kimball, John Peter Altgeld, Philip Armour, Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Allan Pinkerton, and Victor Lawson.

Victor Fremont Lawson was the son of Melinda and Iver and Lawson, a Norwegian immigrant who arrived in Chicago in 1848. He became a wealthy man by buying and selling real estate and was the first Norwegian-American to became politically active. He served as a Chicago alderman and a state senator. When Victor was born on September 9, 1850, the Lawsons named him Victor Fremont in honor of John C. Fremont, the Republican Party’s first nominee for president. Victor attended grammar school and high school in Chicago and later excelled at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed his father’s real estate business, but Iver regained part of his fortune during the next several years. When Iver died in 1874, Victor took over the management of his father’s business interests.

A Norwegian-language newspaper called the Skandinaven was one of Victor’s new partnerships, and he began to manage the family businesses in an office in the newspaper building. Melville E. Stone, the founder of a struggling new newspaper called the Chicago Daily News, also had an office in the same building. When the first issue of the Daily News was published on December 23, 1875, readers soon realized that it was a totally different kind of newspaper from others of the day. It was politically independent, printed stories that were very concise, and sold for one penny. After six months of financial difficulty, Melville Stone turned to his friend and former schoolmate Victor Lawson for help. Lawson agreed to help and bought the newspaper for $6,000. He became the publisher of the Daily News on August 1, 1876, and Melville Stone stayed on the staff as the editor. They bought the Post and Mail in 1878 since it was a member of the Associated Press. Because it tried to serve the whole urban population, the Daily News soon became a true mass-market newspaper in Chicago. From the beginning, the newspaper included popular fiction, household tips, local and national news, and any content that might appeal to a majority of the readers.

The Daily News started with an afternoon edition and introduced a two-penny morning edition in 1881. When it later published both editions for a penny, the Daily News maintained a circulation of more than 200,000. Lawson proved to be a genius in building circulation for the newspaper. He advertised through other publications, posters, postcards, calendars, and clocks. He ran contests and games in the newspaper to generate interest and readership. When Melville Stone retired in 1888, Victor Lawson assumed the positions of both editor and publisher. In the 1890s, the newspaper became a strong advocate for urban reform and campaigned for better city services. Because Lawson felt that the American people needed a direct source of international news during troubled times, he started the Daily News Foreign Service in 1898. Newspapers all over the world followed the model of the Daily News and created their own foreign offices. Lawson also started one of the first columns devoted to radio in 1922. The Daily News was always considered a writer’s newspaper and hired among others Carl Sandburg and Mike Royko. The Daily News published its last edition on Saturday, March 4, 1978.

Victor Lawson married Jessie Strong Bradley on February 5, 1880. The couple had no children partly because Jessie was chronically ill during most of her life. The couple made frequent trips to Europe searching for healing and restoration. Jessie maintained strong religious convictions throughout her life, and because or her beliefs, Victor never published Sunday editions of his newspapers. She died in October 1914. Lawson received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Michigan in 1923 and a similar degree from Columbia University in 1924. Throughout his life, Lawson donated money to many charities including the Chicago Theological Seminary, the Daily News Fresh Air Fund, and the Y.M.C.A. Lawson died on August 19, 1925, at his residence on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Although Victor Lawson frequently reprimanded his younger brother for not working hard and studying enough, Iver N. Lawson commissioned Lorado Taft to design an appropriate grave marker to honor his older brother and to mark his final resting place in Graceland Cemetery. Taft created The Crusader that portrays a medieval knight in armor looking off into the distance and holding a sword in his left hand and a shield in his right hand. A cross of a crusader is embellished on the shield. The statue was carved out of a solid block of granite and polished until it resembled bronze. The Henry C. Smalley Granite Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, furnished the granite. Victor Lawson’s grave is unmarked except for an engraved statement located on the base of the statue that reads: “Above All Things, Truth Beareth Away The Victory.” The phrase refers to a story in the apocryphal Book of Esdras.

For further reading:

Bach, Ira J. & Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide to Chicago’s Public Sculpture. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Dennis, Charles H. Victor Lawson: His Time and His Work. Chicago, Illinois:
The University of Chicago Press, 1935.

Graf, John & Steve Skorpad. Chicago’s Monuments, Markers, and Memorials. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Lanctot, Barbara. A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Architecture Foundation, 1988.

“Unique Statue As Memorial To Victor Lawson.” Chicago Tribune. July 24, 1931.

Vernon, Christopher. Graceland Cemetery: A Design History. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011.

“Victor F. Lawson, 1850-1925.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.
Volume 18, No. 3. October 1925.

“Victor F. Lawson Is Dead.” Chicago Tribune. August 20, 1925.

Weller, Allen. “Lorado Taft, the Ferguson Fund, and the Advent of Modernism,” in The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910-1940. Sue Ann Prince, ed. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Lorado Taft Books

In recent weeks, I have discovered two new books about the life and career of Lorado Taft. Lynn Allyn Young has written Beautiful Dreamer: The Completed Works and Unfulfilled Plans of Sculptor Lorado Taft. Published in 2012 by Quality Books, Inc. based in Oregon, Illinois, this 136-page paperback book contains many photographs of Taft’s existing sculptures, several interesting classic pictures, and extracts from several publications. One appendix of the book contains an exhaustive list of Taft’s sculptural creations. The book can be ordered from Young’s website:

Robert G. La France, curator of pre-modern art at the Krannert Art Museum on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Henry Adams, and Stephen Thomas have almost finished editing Allen Weller’s Lorado Taft: The Chicago Years. To be published in 2013 by the University of Illinois Press, the book will cover 50 years of the sculptor’s life and work. All of Taft’s major works are considered and most are illustrated. The Lorado Taft papers and the Allen Weller papers in the University of Illinois Archives are considerably utilized all through the book.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Trotter Memorial Fountain
Location: Withers Park, Bloomington, Illinois
Dedication: May 30, 1911
Medium: Georgia Marble
GPS Coordinates: N 40° 28.793 W 088° 59.529

Lorado Taft began his artistic career primarily as a sculptor of portrait busts and monuments to soldiers. Later in his profession, he became best known for his symbolic and allegorical fountains including the Fountain of the Great Lakes and The Fountain of Time in Chicago, the Columbus Memorial Fountain in Washington, D.C., and the Thatcher Memorial Fountain in Denver. The Trotter Memorial Fountain, one of Lorado Taft’s most emblematic sculptural creations, is located in Withers Park in Bloomington, Illinois. Located near the corner of East and Washington Streets in Bloomington, the Withers Park land was originally the site of the home of Alan and Sarah Withers, prominent early settlers of Bloomington. The widowed Sarah donated the property to the Library Association, and in 1887, the Withers Library was dedicated on the site. The library served Bloomington citizens until 1977 when it was razed.

The Trotter Memorial Fountain was named for the Trotter family, Bloomington community activists. Siblings John, James, and Georgiana were refugees of the Great Irish Potato Famine who immigrated to the United States before the Civil War. The Trotter family operated a prosperous lumber, grain, and coal business in Bloomington. John Trotter represented his ward on the Bloomington City Council from 1873 to 1879 and was subsequently elected mayor of Bloomington three times. First serving as a nurse in the Civil War, Georgiana Trotter with her friends Sarah Withers and School Superintendent Sarah Raymond led the fund raising campaign for the Withers Library. Georgiana was elected to the Bloomington Board of Education and served on the Withers Library Board.

When James Trotter passed away in 1907, his will contained a provision calling for the creation of a fountain near the Withers Public Library. The fountain would serve as a memorial to his parents and siblings. Sarah E. Raymond, married to Captain F. J. Fitzwilliam since 1896, served as the executrix of the will. Mrs. Fitzwilliam contacted Lorado Taft to design the fountain, and she remained involved with the project until the day of the dedication. Taft’s students from his Chicago workshop sculpted the fountain, carving the Georgia marble with hammers and chisels. Native American women are depicted on the east and west sides of the fountain. Water flows from urns on the shoulders of the women when the water is turned on. A Native American child is located near each woman, and a dog and a bear cub standing on hind legs are featured on the north and south sides of the fountain. These figures symbolize childhood, animal life, and pioneer life. The coat of arms of the Trotter family is located on the north side of the fountain, and the following inscription is included on the south side: “This Fountain Presented to the City of Bloomington Under the Will of James Trotter as a Memorial to His Father John Trotter, His Mother Ann Trotter, His Brother John, and His Sisters Maria, Ann, and Georgiana.”

Although the fountain would remain unfinished for several months, the Trotter Memorial Fountain was dedicated at a grand ceremony on May 30, 1911. A large parade of members of local civic organizations preceded the event. The renowned public speaker from Chicago, Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus, and Sarah E. Raymond Fitzwilliam addressed the audience. Large bouquets of flowers were given to honored guests Ex-Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson, Ex-United States Ambassador to Belgium James S. Ewing, Judge Owen T. Reeves, and Judge Reuben M. Benjamin. Sarah E. Raymond Fitzwilliam also presented the Trotter Memorial Fountain to the City of Bloomington, and Acting Mayor James Costello accepted the fountain on behalf of the City. Florence Funk, granddaughter of the oldest living native born citizen of McLean County, George W. Funk, unveiled the fountain. Water flowed from the fountain on dedication day. Unfortunately, city officials soon realized that the mineral content of the city water caused unsightly yellow stains to appear on the stonework, and the water was shut off for decades. In recent years, modern technology has allowed the city to turn the fountain’s water back on during the summer months.

Lorado Taft interpreted his design of the Trotter Memorial Fountain by saying: “Fountains have always had a peculiar appeal to my imagination. They stand primarily for beauty and refreshment. My studio threatens to become a natatorium, for I have at present four fountains under way. But even this great opportunity granted to me in Chicago and Washington has not given me greater pleasure than the thought of making something for a children’s playground in this central part of Illinois, a region so dear to my heart. Half of the charm of Rome and Florence lies in their picturesque, gurgling, and splashing fountains that make the heat of the summer endurable through their very suggestion of comfort. Every town should have its own visible symbol, a something tangible around which its civic affection may twine. We lack traditions; we owe it to ourselves to make them. I love to address an audience of young people, but think of the sculptor’s privilege in sending a message down the centuries to unborn and unnumbered generations. This is a playground. I want to tell our children and their children that little ones had played here long before we came. This is the privilege of the sculptor’s art, this most enduring of the arts with its hint of eternity, to unite the ages, to reach a grateful hand to the past, and a loving greeting to the future. In this work, I send an affectionate message to all the little people to come.”

For further reading:

“Art Committee at University: Dr. Hieronymus, Lorado Taft, Noted Sculptor, and President Felmley Speak.” The Daily Pantagraph. June 23, 1924.

“Comes Here to Oversee Fountain: Mrs. Fitzwilliam Arrives in the City With Flags and Other Material for Memorial Ceremonies.” The Daily Pantagraph. May 15, 1911.

“Dedicate Memorial Fountain: Lorado Taft, Dr. Frank Gunsaulus, and Adlai E. Stevenson are Speakers at Notable Event.” Chicago Tribune. May 31, 1911.

“Fountain is City’s Heaviest Stone: Granite Block Weighs 22,500 Pounds.”
The Daily Pantagraph. May 27, 1911.

Kemp, Bill. “Trotter Fountain Work of Lorado Taft.” The Daily Pantagraph.
February 10, 2008.

“Lorado Taft is Heard at Normal: Demonstrates Work of Sculptor with Clay and Paper Mache Models.” The Daily Pantagraph. August 12, 1924.

“Lorado Taft to Speak at Normal: Will Lecture Monday Evening at University on Glimpses of a Sculptors’ Studio.” The Daily Pantagraph. August 9, 1924.

“Maker of Trotter Fountain Is Here: Noted Sculptor Talks of the Proposed Memorial in Bloomington and Other Subjects in His Line.” The Daily Pantagraph.
October 19, 1910.

“Pictures Shown of New Fountain for the Withers Park.” The Daily Bulletin. February 16, 1910.

“Programme of Dedication & Unveiling Exercises of Trotter Memorial Fountain in Children’s Playground, Withers Park.” Bloomington, Illinois: May 30, 1911.

Smedley, Gene. “Fountain Promoted Youthful Play.” The Daily Pantagraph.
March 26, 2000.

“Trotter Fountain Here is Among Works of Lorado Taft, Sculptor: Bloomington Friends Mourn Death of Famous Artist Who Died in Chicago.” The Daily Pantagraph. October 30, 1936.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alma Mater Group
Location: Near Altgeld Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
Dedication: June 11, 1929
Medium: Bronze
GPS Coordinates: N 40° 06.598 W 088° 13.697

Lorado Taft was born on April 29, 1860, in Elmwood, Illinois, and moved to Champaign with his family when his father was appointed Professor of Geology at the University of Illinois in 1871. When the fourteen-year-old Lorado helped unpack and repair a sculpture collection at the Fine Arts Gallery on campus in 1874, he discovered his passion and life’s work as a sculptor. Taft later received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois in 1879 and 1880. When he was appointed a non-resident professor of Art at the university in 1919, he gave popular lectures and speeches on art to large and enthusiastic audiences. Throughout his life, Lorado Taft maintained a close relationship with his Alma Mater, which resulted in several sculptural creations crafted by him dispersed throughout the campus.

As early as 1883, letters written by Lorado Taft indicated that he was interested in “giving back” to his beloved Alma Mater, and he modeled a relief of Learning and Labor holding hands. He made a sketch of his proposed Alma Mater statue in 1916 and experimented on the size of the figures to be included. He finished a plaster cast of his conception and brought it to the campus in June 1922. In speaking to his classmates at an alumni reunion, Taft said that the creation of the sculpture “had been a labor of love, a period of happy toil, recalling the wonderful days of the early practice of my art. I have been going to my studio at five o’clock every morning, and these fragrant mornings have brought back memories of similar dewy dawns of nearly fifty years ago when I used to hasten over to my spacious studio in the basement of old University Hall and work in the clay until breakfast time.”

Lorado Taft designed The Alma Mater Group, a sculpture that contained a group of three figures and an armchair. The front and center figure is “Alma Mater,” a standing female wearing an academic robe. Her palms are open, and her arms are outstretched, a gesture of kindly greeting to her children. The University of Illinois’ motto of “Learning and Labor” is depicted in the two figures behind her. “Labor” is a male wearing a blacksmith’s apron. His right arm is extended over the chair in a handshake with the female “Learning” to his left. She is a model of the Lemnian Athena, a classical Greek statue of the goddess Athena. The armchair has a bas-relief seal of the State of Illinois on the back. Several quotes are inscribed on the base of the sculpture. They include: “Given to the University by the sculptor, the Alumni Fund, and the senor classes 1923, 1925, 1925, 1926, 1917, 19228, and 1929,” “Her Children Arise Up and Call Her Blessed.” Proverbs 3: 28, and “Alma Mater To Thy Happy Children of the Future, Those of the Past Send Greetings.” The American Art Bronze Foundry and Jules Berchem and Sons of Chicago cast the sculpture. Originally placed behind Foellinger Auditorium, the Alma Mater Group was moved to its current location on August 22, 1962.

The Alma Mater Group was dedicated on June 11, 1929. William L. Abbott, president of the Alumni Fund Board, presented the sculpture to the university and said in his remarks: “Republics are ungrateful. We little appreciate that which is freely given without the asking. Alumni of state-supported universities are lacking in alma mater sentiment. These are charges are often made and often refuted. One monumental refutation of the charge of indifference of alumni already stands on this campus, and here today we dedicate another testimonial, much humbler in pretention but none the less sincere. The inspiration for this piece was born long ago in the longing of Alma Mater’s great artist son to leave on the campus a symbolic expression of the love which he and all true alumni feel for this university.”

David Kinley, president of the University of Illinois, accepted the Alma Mater Group on behalf of the university and said in his remarks “I speak for the Board, for the State, for the Faculty, for the Students, both of today and of the years to come. As you know, this great gift is the result of contributions from the alumni, the senior classes, and, greatest of all, from the sculptor himself. This contribution is significant in several ways. First, there are these people who thought of doing it, and who were willing to do it unselfishly for the benefit of future generations. Then there is Mr. Taft himself. I know I shall not look upon his like again. I accept this magnificent gift for the University, and I hope that all of us will cherish in our hearts and minds the spirit and the ideals which went into it.”

William L. Abbott then introduced Lorado Taft and gave these introductory remarks: “You are the idol of the University, and although your ample feet are not of clay, your hands often daubed with that material. It was fifty years ago when you modeled clay under the old chapel. During all of these intervening years, the University has watched with pride your growing fame and has shone in your reflected light. For my associates and me, we count ourselves fortunate in having been privileged to work with you in this latest achievement, and we congratulate ourselves on having been able to consummate the undertaking in time to have it serve as a crowning feature of the 50th anniversary of your graduation.”

Lorado Taft was given a standing ovation when he arose to speak. Taft told the audience about the history of the Alma Mater Group, saying that he had envisioned the sculpture ever since his graduation. He continued: “I hope that this Alma Mater Group may widen the horizons of all Illini, not only of today and yesterday but of those in the long centuries to come.” At the conclusion of Taft’s speech, President Kinley presented him with a hand-illuminated testimonial. The University also conferred an honorary LL.D. degree on him on commencement day that year.

In recent years, the Alma Mater Group was appropriately decorated for significant university events. When the men’s basketball team reached the Final Four in 2005 and played for the NCAA championship in St. Louis, she wore an Illini jersey. She was decorated with orange and blue roses when the football team played in the 2008 Rose Bowl game. During commencement week in 2010, she was outfitted with what was probably the world’s largest cap and gown. The Herff Jones Company from Champaign manufactured and paid the cost for the ensemble. The area around the Alma Mater Group became a very popular site for commencement photographs that year.

In 2011, university officials announced that the Alma Mater Group needed restoration. Jennifer Hain Teper, chairperson of the Preservation Working Group, declared it to be “one of the visual icons of the campus. When people think of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this is one of the visual landmarks.” Lorado Taft had originally designed the sculpture to allow students to climb on it, but this is not permitted now because of its deteriorated condition. The sculpture was last repaired in 1981 when a university professor strengthened the internal supports, caulked the sculpture’s joints, and replaced rusted bolts. The university contracted with the Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio to complete the restoration. The company plans to move the sculpture on a flatbed truck to its headquarters in Forest Park, Illinois, in August 2012. Company officials promised to return the Alma Mater Group to its rightful place on campus before the 2013 commencement exercises.

For further reading:

“Alma Mater Statue Is Dedicated: Impressive Exercises Held On Alumni Day, June 11; Cherished Dream Of Lorado Taft, ’79, Is Realized.” Illinois Alumni News.
June 26, 1929.

Griffin, Ashley. “Alma Mater Statue To Be Restored.” Illinois Issues. April 2012.

Kanfer, Alaina & Larry. Illini Loyalty: The University of Illinois. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

“Lorado Taft to Begin Work on a Statue for the University of Illinois.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Vol. 12, No. 1 April 1919.

McCauley, Lena M. “Alma Mater Group In Bronze.” Art World Magazine Of The Chicago Evening Post. May 28, 1929.

McCauley, Lena M. “Taft Completes Work on Alma Mater Group: To Be Placed on U. of I. Campus as Gift of Sculptor.” Chicago Post. June 6, 1922.

Rohr, Lauren. “Alma Mater to be Removed for Crack, Stain Repair.” The Daily Illini. May 7, 2012.

Rohr, Lauren. “University to Restore Alma Mater to Prevent Serious Future Damages.” The Daily Illini. February 21, 2012.

Scheinman, Muriel. A Guide to Art at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, Robert Allerton Park, and Chicago. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1995.

Scheinman, Muriel. “Labors of Love: Lorado Taft – the Sculptor Behind the ‘Alma Mater’ – Embraced Both His Art and His University.” Illinois Alumni. March/April, 2010.

“Sculptor Helps to Pay Honor to His Alma Mater: Lorado Taft Executes Group in Bronze for University of Illinois.” The Christian Science Monitor. November 25, 1929.

Wurth, Julie. “Alma Gets Her Gown On.” The News-Gazette. May 11, 2010.

Wurth, Julie. “Alma Mater Taking Leave After Commencement.” The News-Gazette. February 17, 2012.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fountain of the Great Lakes

Fountain of the Great Lakes
Location: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Dedication: September 9, 1913
Architect: Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge
Medium: Bronze
GPS Coordinates: N 41° 52.731 W 087° 37.407

A remark by famed Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham convinced Lorado Taft that he should create one of his most famous sculptures, Fountain of the Great Lakes. Burnham complained that the sculptors who designed art for the 1893 Columbian Exposition failed to produce a single work representing the natural resources of the Great Lakes. For inspiration for the sculpture, Taft turned to the Greek myth of the Danaides, forty-nine sisters who were sent to Hades for killing their husbands on their wedding nights. As punishment for this crime, the sisters were eternally condemned to hopelessly carry water in sieves. Taft envisioned a fountain with five female figures each representing one of the Great Lakes. Each statue would hold a conch shell, and the water would flow from the shells in the same way that the water passes through the Great Lakes system.

Lorado Taft assigned five of his women sculpture students to design a plaster study sculpture called The Spirit of the Great Lakes in the spring of 1902. Nellie Walker, Angelica McNulty, Clara Leonard, Lily Schoenbrun, and Edith Parker were each responsible for sculpting one of the individual women. By January of 1906, Taft cast a plaster version of the sculpture that he then showed to a Ferguson Fund trustee. On December 16, 1907, the Ferguson Fund trustees awarded a contract to Taft to commence work on Fountain of the Great Lakes. Site selection concerns and legal problems delayed the project for several years. Finally, in May 1913 a plaster model of the sculpture was sent to the Jules Berchem foundry for bronze casting. Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston, the architects of the original building of the Art Institute of Chicago, designed a base for the sculpture. A pool surrounded a pedestal on which the fountain was placed and two fish served as waterspouts. The fountain was originally placed along the south wall of the original Art Institute building, but was relocated to the west side of the Morton Wing addition in 1963 where it stands today. Unfortunately, a bronze bas-relief portrait and a quotation of Ferguson on the backside of the fountain are hidden from view in the current location. Landscape architect Daniel Urban Kiley designed the gardens that surround the fountain.

Fountain of the Great Lakes was the first commission funded by the trustees of the B.F. Ferguson Monument Fund. Benjamin Franklin Ferguson was a Chicago merchant and philanthropist whose one million dollar gift to a charitable trust fund helped finance many Chicago public monuments and sculptures. The terms of Ferguson’s gift specified that the Art Institute of Chicago could select artists and sites for “the erection and maintenance of enduring statuary and monuments, in whole or in part of stone, granite, or bronze in the parks, along the boulevards, or in other public places within the city of Chicago, Illinois, commemorating worthy men or women of America or important events in American history.” In article an from an April 1905 edition of the Chicago Tribune, the writer stated: “No other city in the world has such a fund available as that left by Mr. Ferguson, and officials of the Art Institute, artists, and devotees of municipal art freely predicted that the bequest would make Chicago the richest city in the world in sculpture and the Mecca for artists.”

Fountain of the Great Lakes was dedicated on September 9, 1913. Charles L. Hutchinson, president of the Board of Trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago, presented the sculpture to the assembled audience. John Barton Payne, president of the Board of South Park Commissioners, accepted the sculpture. Hutchinson spoke first and said: “This is but one of many monuments which will in time be erected and add greatly to the beauty of our city. They will give pleasure and inspiration to thousands of our fellow citizens by recalling to memory great Americans and events, notable in the history of our country. Think of all that will be accomplished in the course of a hundred years through the generosity of Mr. Ferguson. It is difficult to conceive of the glory of it all, made possible by his farsighted benevolence. We are fortunate in having among our citizens a great artist, Mr. Lorado Taft. For several years, he worked faithfully to give adequate expression to one of his noble conceptions. The city is to be congratulated upon possessing an artist capable of creating this beautiful fountain, and at the same time a citizen so generous and of such great vision as to enable the artist to put his ideas in permanent form.”

In his acceptance speech, John Barton Payne said: “In accepting this splendid monument for and on behalf of the South Side Commissioners, I speak not only for the Commissioners but also for the people of the City of Chicago. It is singularly appropriate that the first great work, the result of the splendid bequest of B. F. Ferguson, should typify the Great Lakes. Bodies of water have always been the subject of song and story. Rome celebrated its Tiber, Florence its Arno, Paris its Seine, London its Thames. Well may Chicago celebrate our great chain of lakes, our inland seas, Erie, Ontario, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. How wonderfully these names lend themselves to poetry, song, and story, and how the rivers fade into insignificance when compared with these Great Lakes! Lorado Taft, one of the great sculptors of this age, has placed a crown upon the forehead of our Great Lakes.”

In his dedication address, Lorado Taft explained his thinking behind his artistic creation: “The motif of the group is not profound. I have sometimes wondered if it were not too obvious. ‘Lake Superior’ on high and ‘Lake Michigan’ at the side both empty into the basin of ‘Lake Huron,’ who sends the waters on to ‘Lake Erie’ whence ‘Lake Ontario’ receives them. As they escape from her basin and hasten into the unknown, she reaches wistfully after them as though questioning whether she has been neglectful of her charge. The exigencies of placing have made her reach toward Saint Louis instead of the Saint Lawrence, but you are requested to overlook this solecism. But we are gathered here for another purpose. We come to do honor to a good man, a man of imagination and vision. I never met Mr. Ferguson, but I wish that I had. I remember what a thrill I felt when the significance of his unprecedented benefaction first dawned on me. I felt that I should have known him. I wanted to thank him personally in the name of all Chicago, the Chicago of today and of the many tomorrows.”

For further reading:

Bach, Ira J. & Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide to Chicago’s Public Sculpture. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Exercises At The Dedication Of The Ferguson Fountain Of The Great Lakes: Chicago, September 9, 1913.

Garvey, Timothy J. Public Sculptor: Lorado Taft and the Beautification of Chicago. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Graf, John & Steve Skorpad. Chicago’s Monuments, Markers, and Memorials. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Hilliard, Celia. “The Prime Mover:” Charles L. Hutchinson and the Making of The Art Institute Of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois: The Art Institute of Chicago, 2010.

Moulton, Robert Hunt. “Chicago’s Dream of Civic Beauty Realized in the Symbolic Marble of Lorado Taft’s ‘Spirit of the Great Lakes’.” The Craftsman. Vol. 25, 1913.

Riedy, James L. Chicago Sculpture. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

Weller, Allen. “Lorado Taft, the Ferguson Fund, and the Advent of Modernism,” in The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910-1940. Sue Ann Prince, ed. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Western Illinois Magazine

The Western Illinois Magazine is a student-run newspaper based at Western Illinois University in Macomb. This bi-annual publication showcases interesting people, places, and things in the Western Illinois region. The motto of the periodical, “The only magazine in the world that gives a damn about Western Illinois,” is printed on the masthead.

In the Spring 2012 issue of the Western Illinois Magazine, Kelsey Wolfe authored a story entitled “Lorado Taft’s Legacy Lives in Elmwood.” Among other topics, Kelsey wrote about the emergence of Taft’s gift to his hometown, the sculpture The Pioneers. Kelsey wrote: “Lorado Taft always maintained a connection with Elmwood because of friends in the area. In fact, his ashes lie in the Elmwood Township Cemetery surrounding his memorial. When he was alive, he wanted to give something back to his hometown, so he said he would donate a statue that he had envisioned if the town could come up with the money for a granite base. To collect money for the base, Elmwood librarian Carol Inskeep said that grade school students in Elmwood made ‘golden rulers’ by collecting dimes and taping them to pieces of paper shaped like a ruler. The town pooled together over $15,000 by hosting chicken dinners and other events. The result was The Pioneers, a sculpture in Elmwood Central Park. In June of 2010, two tornadoes touched down in Elmwood and wreaked havoc downtown. The tornadoes destroyed many buildings and trees in Elmwood Central Park, but The Pioneers remained standing."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Pioneers

The Pioneers
Location: Central Park, Elmwood, Illinois
Dedication: May 27, 1928
Medium: Bronze
GPS Coordinates: N 40º 46.698 W 089º 57.949

On September 12, 1925, a small group of citizens from Elmwood, Illinois, met and recommended that one of Elmwood’s most famous citizens, Lorado Taft, be commissioned to create a sculpture in his hometown. The members of the group contacted Taft, and he accepted the assignment. Taft agreed to donate his work if the town could raise the necessary money for the casting of the sculpture and the mounting of it on a base. Marion Webster Lott volunteered to be the chairman of the fundraising committee, and Edson Smith served as the cochairman. The committee needed to raise $15,000 for the project, and a generous donation of $5,000 by Mr. & Mrs. E. L. Brown provided the foundation for the remainder of the fundraising.

The project was a true community effort. The local newspaper, the Elmwood Gazette, was very supportive and helped with the fundraising effort. Solicitation letters prepared by the high school typing class were sent out to friends and former residents of Elmwood. The Boy Scouts, the Kiwanis Club, the King’s Daughters, the E.O.W. Club, the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Rebekahs and Eastern Star Lodges, and the Women’s Club all pitched in to raise money. School children gave $120 by saving and contributing dimes. The committee reported on February 1, 1926, that the amount of money in hand or pledged exceeded the original goal.

Taft’s The Pioneers was cast in bronze and arrived in Elmwood in a railroad boxcar on May 23, 1928. The J.P. Bourgoin Monument Company supplied a granite base set on concrete. Taft depicted a young pioneer couple with the man holding a gun in his hand, and the woman clutching a baby. There was a look of idealism and great fearlessness on the face of the young man. A dog at the family’s feet represented the domestic life experienced by all pioneers. Taft’s explanation of The Pioneers’ significance was engraved on the base: “To The Pioneers Who Bridged The Streams, Subdued The Soil, And Founded A State.”

The Pioneers was unveiled and dedicated in Elmwood’s Central Park on May 27, 1928. Two thousand invitations to the ceremony were mailed out, and an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people arrived in Elmwood by train and automobile. The Elmwood Community Band gave a one-hour concert while the attendees were taking their seats. The Girl’s Glee Club of Elmwood High School sang “America The Beautiful” and “Illinois”. Taft’s daughter Emily, later the wife of Illinois Senator Paul H. Douglas, and Marian Brown Pollitz, daughter of the E.L. Browns, unveiled the statue. Elmwood mayor, S.R. Fleisher, officially accepted the statue on behalf of the community. Dr. David McKinley, president of the University of Illinois, and State Superintendent of Instruction Francis Blair offered greetings and congratulations to the community. Former Governor Frank Lowden sent a message saying: “This is a fine thing that Lorado Taft is doing for his home community, but he is always doing fine things for everybody’s community.”

Taft’s brother-in-law, author Hamlin Garland, was the principle speaker, and the topic of his address was “The Westward March of the Pioneers.” He called the pioneer the most distinctive personage in American life and literature. Employing all of his considerable literary and poetic skills, Garland continued: “The pioneer had never before been seen. Europe colonized in tribes, in communities. The individual explorer is a development of the western continent. Who shall estimate the wealth of shadow, the fund of poetry, the splendor of romance, which the pathfinders, both red and white, have bequeathed to us? The trail of memory leads away to shadow-dappled glades. It offers the cabin and sweet sleep. It recalls the heroism, the simplicity, and the sanity of our grandsires. It enables us to overtake the things vanishing, to listen to the creak of the latch-string, to bend to the rude fireplace, and to blow again upon the embers, gray with ashes, till a flame springs up and the shadows of mournful beauty dance upon the walls. I am glad that I was born early enough to catch the dying echoes of their songs, to bask in the failing light of their fires.”

Lorado Taft greeted the assembled crowd and expressed great satisfaction in having one of his creative works located in his hometown. Taft continued: “I am very grateful and very glad you have helped me in placing this group. It is not my gift to you, but rather your gift to yourselves. It would give me great joy to be able to place in every community some work of art that would make permanent the traditions around which it was founded. I should like to help in making all communities interesting to themselves. All have memorials, there is much to commemorate all through Illinois. All is changed now from the time of the pioneer. Now we travel where they used to travail. Now all are neighbors. All communities have paid tribute to war, horrible as it is, but there are so many other things to be capitalized. Better things should come to this state of ours, so rich, so fortunate.”

The Pioneers was added to the National Register of Historic places in 2001. On Sunday, August 2, 2009, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Elmwood Community Band, band director Stewart McKechnie debuted a newly commissioned work called “The Pioneers.” The band gave the concert in the Central Park gazebo, very near Taft’s sculpture of the same name.

Elmwood boasts another Taft sculpture. After Lorado Taft died in Chicago on October 30, 1936, his ashes were scattered over the ground in Elmwood Cemetery. The spot is now marked by the sculptural piece Memory, one of Taft’s most intimate creative works. Memory is a smaller replica of an original bronze statue entitled Foote Memorial Angel. Located in Woodlawn Cemetery in Jackson, Michigan, this statue was a favorite of Lorado Taft’s wife. Memory was dedicated in Elmwood Cemetery on April 29, 1938.

For further reading:

Coon, Richard A. & Nancy C. Coon. Remembering A Favorite Son: The Story of Lorado Taft. Elmwood, Illinois: The Elmwood Historical Society, 2003.

“Descendants Pay Tribute to Central Illinois Pioneers at Unveiling of Group Statue at Elmwood on Sunday.” Bloomington Daily Pantagraph. May 28, 1928.

Hieronymus, R. E. “Lorado Taft’s Pioneer Group At Elmwood.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Vol. 21, No. 2. July, 1928.

“A Memorial To Pioneers.” Chicago Daily News. March 6, 1928.

“The Pioneers.” The Illinois Teacher. April 1929.

“Taft Remembers Old Home Town: Eminent Artist to Present Sculptured Group to City of Elmwood.” Bloomington Pantagraph. October 21, 1925.

Von Keller, Beatrice. “Taft’s ‘The Pioneers’ Unveiled at Elmwood: Noted Sculptor Honors His Birthplace.” Illinois Journal of Commerce. August 1928.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lorado Taft And The White Rabbits

Lorado Taft And The White Rabbits

Lorado Taft moved to Chicago when he returned from Paris in 1886 and established a small studio in the downtown area. He began a teaching career at the Art Institute of Chicago and soon became involved in the work and planning for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Head architect for the exposition Daniel Burnham assigned Taft to work with architect William Le Baron Jenney. Jenny designed the Horticultural Building for the fair, and Taft created two sculptural groups for the structure. Noted sculptors from all over the country created other artistic works to complement the other buildings. Burnham expressed concern that the many sculptures might not be finished on time, so he added to Taft’s responsibilities. When Taft requested the assistance of several of his female students, Burnham replied: “Hire anyone, even white rabbits if they’ll do the work.” As a result, a group of gifted women sculptors who became known as the “White Rabbits” emerged. The artists included Helen Farnsworth Mears, Enid Yandell, Mary Lawrence, Julia Bracken, Carol Brooks MacNeil, Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Margaret Gerow, and Janet Scudder. Under the mentorship and tutelage of Lorado Taft, these women became famous sculptors and created numerous works of art.

Helen Farnsworth Mears was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and later studied art in Paris and New York City. While living in New York, she studied with Augustus St. Gaudens and later became his assistant. One of her most important works was her marble statue of Frances W. Willard, the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and a supporter of women’s suffrage. Mears’s statue of Willard is one of two representing the State of Illinois in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U. S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Enid Yandell was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and attended the Cincinnati Art Academy where she won a first-prize medal upon graduation. She co-authored Three Girls In a Flat, an account of her participation in planning the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. She was the first woman to join the National Sculpture Society in 1898.

Mary Lawrence was born in New York City and studied art with Augustus St. Gaudens at the Art Students League in New York. While St. Gaudens was working in Chicago to prepare for the World’s Columbian Exposition, he recommended that Lawrence be commissioned to create the statue of Christopher Columbus that would be placed at the entrance of the Administration Building. Critics resented the fact that Lawrence was given this prestigious assignment because she was a woman. Julia Bracken was born in Apple River, Illinois, and later studied with Lorado Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was awarded a commission to create Illinois Welcoming the Nation for the fair. This statue was later cast in bronze and now welcomes politicians and visitors to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

Bessie Potter Vonnoh was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and enrolled in classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at the age of fourteen. She received instruction from Lorado Taft and worked as one of his studio assistants. She was commissioned to create the Personification of Art for the Illinois State Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. She later exhibited her work at both the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was awarded a Gold Medal. Janet Scudder was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and moved to Chicago in 1891 to join Lorado Taft’s “White Rabbits” group. She was commissioned to create figures for the Indiana and Illinois buildings at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Scudder was an active feminist and suffragette and often marched in parades involving women’s issues. She resisted the contemporary practice of having separate expositions for male and female artists.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Annie Louise Keller Memorial

Annie Louise Keller Memorial
Location: Whiteside Park, White Hall, Illinois
Dedication: August 25, 1929
Medium: Pink Marble
GPS Coordinates: N 39° 26.157 W 090° 24.204

Annie Louise Keller, the daughter of Philip F. Keller and Nora Russell Keller, was born near Walkerville, Illinois, on October 31, 1901. When she was still a teenager, her father died, and the rest of the family moved to White Hall. Annie’s friends described her as a conscientious but fun-loving girl who never missed a day of school. Annie also had a dark side and sometimes worried that people didn’t like her. She wrote poetry, and one of her works proved to be eerily prophetic:

“And some day when you are weary
And your friends seem rather few,
What you did to help another
Someone will do the same for you.”

Annie once drove a team of horses through an overflowing creek to get to church on time. She was almost killed at an early age when she and her mother were walking in a field and lightning struck a barbed wire fence that Annie was lifting. Annie graduated from White Hall High School in 1920, taught one year at Diamond, two years at North Lincoln, and three years at Centerville School.

On April 19, 1927, Annie Louise Keller was teaching in the small Centerville School when a large tornado passed through Greene County. Three students had gone home for lunch, but eighteen others were eating in the one-room school. Suddenly the tornado hit the school grounds, and a small shed next to the school was blown away. Annie told the students to get under their desks immediately. The tornado struck at 12:18 p.m., and most of the upper part of the school was destroyed. Flying debris killed Annie instantly. Howard Hobson, Annie’s fiancé, was the first person to enter the school after the tornado’s devastation. He found that a few of the students were injured, but none had died. Seven other people in Greene County were killed by the tornado. Annie’s funeral was held on April 24, 1927, and her body was placed in the family plot in the Russell Cemetery north of Eldred. The following passage from John 15:13 was inscribed on her headstone: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.”

Members of the community quickly mobilized to recognize Keller for her courage. The Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution to honor Annie and observed a moment of silence. A fundraising committee collected donations from supporters and admirers from all around the country. Lorado Taft was commissioned to design a bronze sculpture to honor Keller’s heroism. School children from all over Illinois donated pennies to pay for the monument, and Taft donated his time. Taft chose pink marble instead of bronze even though the marble was more expensive. Greatly impressed with Keller’s bravery, Taft explained his choice of pink marble: “The effect would be more beautiful than could be obtained through a dark spot of bronze attached to another material. I generally use bronze, but I have a feeling that in this case we have an opportunity for a more ideal and poetic treatment. I am deeply interested in it and do not care if the carving costs me more.” Mary Keller, sister of Annie Louise, traveled twice to Taft’s Midway Studio in Chicago to pose for the sculpture. In his artistic creation, Taft depicted Keller as a teacher with her hair bobbed flapper-style. She holds a small boy and a small girl close to her chest as she envisions a storm approaching. Several schoolbooks dangle from the hand of the small boy. The names of all twenty-one students are carved on one side of the four-sided monument.

Three thousand people from Central Illinois, including all but one of Keller’s students, attended the unveiling and dedication of the Annie Louise Keller Memorial in White Hall on August 25, 1929. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Francis G. Blair presided. Five community leaders delivered speeches including Fannie Merwin, former head of the state teachers organization; V.Y. Dallman, editor-in-chief of the Illinois State Register in Springfield; Attorney Thomas D. Masters from Springfield; State Senater A.S. Cuthbertson from Bunker Hill; and Lorado Taft, the sculptor from Chicago. Given an ovation when he was introduced, Taft said: “I saw here in the heroism of Miss Annie Keller an opportunity to do something in honor of a more or less obscure woman who gave her life without one thought of herself. The value of preserving that ideal appealed to me. The vision I had is set up in the stone there. There is no more beautiful story that that told in the life and death of Miss Keller. I rejoice in my profession that makes possible this memorial to her if it becomes an inspiration to others and perpetuates her sweet memory.”

Superintendent Blair said: “Annie Louise Keller not only by her heroic act but by her daily walk and conversation, by her daily contacts with the pupils in her school, built for herself a spiritual monument. Here all of the children who sat in the schoolroom that fateful day are present, save one. They come to bear their heart-felt tribute to their beloved teacher. Annie Louise Keller had nothing to do in shaping the concrete foundation of this monument. Her hands did not fashion this beautiful shaft. It was not her genius that carved these fine forms and faces. The temple that she has built is in the hearts of these children who encircle this memorial of their teacher. That temple will not corrode, will not crumble, and will not fall.”

Centerville School was rebuilt in 1927 using thirteen-inch thick walls and steel beams. A storm cellar was added in the basement, and the school was later converted to a house. White Hall officials sponsored a memorial service in Whiteside Park on April 19, 1977, the 50th anniversary of the death of Annie Louise Keller. Emily Taft Douglas, the daughter of Lorado Taft and the wife of Paul Douglas, senator from Illinois, was among the dignitaries who knew the Keller story and attended the ceremony. To honor the White Hall heroine, the Chicago Public School system established the Annie Keller Magnet School.

For further reading:

Anderson, Francis P. “Annie Louise Keller: Heroine Extraordinaire.” White Hall Sesquicentennial Book. 1982.

“Annie Louise Keller Memorial: Unveiled At White Hall, Illinois.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Vol. 22, No. 3. October 1929. p. 468-476.

Bettendorf, Elizabeth. “A Young Schoolteacher’s Courage During a Tornado Has Become a Legend.” State Journal-Register. June 15, 1994.

Keefe, William F. “One Small Town, Two Revered Heroes.” The Beacher Weekly Newspaper. Volume 24, Number 24. June 19, 2008.

“Keller Memorial Unveiled At White Hall As Warning Sounds To Save Children.” Illinois State Register. August 26, 1929.

“Timepiece.” Historic Illinois. April, 1998.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lorado Taft Field Campus

Lorado Taft Field Campus Lorado Taft and several of his colleagues founded the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony in 1898 on a Rock River bluff north of Oregon, Illinois. The members of the group were all Chicago artists and staff members at the University of Chicago art department or the Art Institute of Chicago. The colony flourished as a source of knowledge, natural splendor, and frequent visitations until 1942 when Ralph Clarkson, the last living member of the colony, passed away. Acquired by Northern Illinois University of 1951, the university president advocated the establishment of a field study camp. The site was renovated by University Industrial Arts classes and was converted into the Lorado Taft Field Campus.

By the spring of 1954, three of the buildings from the former art colony, including the Lorado Taft home, were ready for use in the new educational mission. Paul Harrison was appointed the first director of the field campus later that year, and the first class of students came for three weeks of training. The Teacher’s College Board approved a Master’s degree in Outdoor Education in 1963. Seventy-five additional acres of land were purchased in 1965, expanding the campus to 141 acres. A dormitory was built in 1971, and the other buildings were continually upgraded. The Northern Illinois University College of Education ended its relationship with the Lorado Taft Field Campus in 2000, and the campus now operates under the auspices of the Office of the Provost at the university.

The campus now serves year-round as the university’s outdoor education and conference center. Each year more than 6,000 area schoolchildren and their teachers come to the campus and find a resource for the study of ecosystems and the influence that people have on them. The Outdoor Education Program teaches an appreciation, awareness, and understanding of the natural world. The program leaders feel that learning should occur not only in the classroom but also in the outside world. They offer a combination of multidisciplinary classes and an interface with the ecological world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument

Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument
Location: Court House Square, Mount Carroll, Illinois
Dedication: October 6, 1891
Medium: Barre Granite
GPS Coordinates: N 42° 06.079 W 089° 58.724

Located in Northwest Illinois, Mount Carroll became the county seat of Carroll County in 1843. Carroll County was originally a part of Jo Daviess County

until 1839. It was named for Charles Carroll, a United States Senator from Maryland and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. On October 24, 1884, a number of Carroll County Civil War veterans organized the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Society of Carroll County. At a subsequent meeting, D. W. Dame recommended that the society build a monument to honor the 1,284 Civil War veterans of Carroll County. Most of the men fought under Generals Grant, Sherman, McPherson, or Logan. They fought in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, or Tennessee. The society members suggested that the monument be placed on the courthouse square in Mount Carroll. The county board voted to contribute $6,000.00 for the project, and the city of Mount Carroll provided $400.00 to construct the cement steps and background.

Lorado Taft was a member of a team of artists who was commissioned to create the Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument. George H. Mitchell designed the monument, and Josiah Schamel constructed the foundation. John C. Hall designed the annex that was added later when county officials determined that there were many names missing from the original honor roll list. The monument consists of a fifty-foot vertical shaft with a Lorado Taft sculpted soldier holding a flag at the top. Lewis H. Sprecher of Lanark posed for the statue and made several trips to Taft’s Chicago studio to model for it. Two additional statues are attached to the base of the monument, one an infantryman and the other a cavalryman.

Just below Taft’s statue at the top of the monument are eight engraved symbols representing the various army groups that the men of Carroll County fought in during the Civil War. The monument also includes the names of the twelve battles that the men of Carroll County fought in: Atlanta, Chickamauga, Corinth, Fort Donelson, Gettysburg, Hatchie’s Bridge, Nashville, Resaca, Shiloh, Stones River, Vicksburg, and the Wilderness. The following words appear on one face of the monument: “Carroll County: To The Memory Of The Men Who Saved The Union That Their Example May Speak To Coming Generations.” The short phrases “Slavery Abolished” “Peace Restored” and “Courage – Endurance” flank the monument on the other three sides. Two large cannons are positioned on either side of the monument, and a pyramid of cannon balls rests on the ground near the rear of the monument.

The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument was unveiled and dedicated in Mount Carroll on October 6, 1891, before a crowd of more than 5,000 people. County Superintendent of Schools John Grossman declared a school holiday on that day, and hundreds of students and teachers attended the dedication ceremony. Carriages full of attendees came from Savannah, Thomson, Lanark, and Shannon. The city was decorated with bunting and flags, and meals were served to the guests by hotels and churchwomen. A band from Savanna led a parade of marchers that included members of various Grand Army of the Republic posts, the Knights of Pythias, the Select Knights of America, and school children. Mount Carroll Mayor N. H. Melendy gave the welcome speech, and J. M. Hunter addressed the assembled soldiers and civilians.

The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument was rededicated exactly a hundred years later on October 6, 1991. Two Civil War reenactment groups participated in the celebration. The 121st Illinois Regiment conducted a daylong Civil War encampment, and Battery G of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery fired the cannons near the monument. Lt. Col. Warren Sweitzer addressed the assembled crowd and thanked the Carroll County Board for constructing the monument a century earlier.

For further reading:

Boyd, Mary et al. Rededication Ceremony of the Carroll County Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Mount Carroll, Illinois: Developing Communications, 1991.

“The Soldiers and Sailors Monument.” Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Accessed 8/30/10.

Sparboe, W. H. “Battles Listed on the Carroll County Civil War Monument.”
Mount Carroll Culture, Style, Art, History, & Relaxation. Accessed 12/31/10.

Sparboe, W. H. “The Carroll County Civil War Memorial.” Mount Carroll Culture, Style, Art, History, & Relaxation. Accessed 12/30/10.

Thiem, E. George, ed. “Soldiers and Sailors Society.” Carroll County – A Goodly Heritage. Mt. Morris, Illinois: Kable Printing Company, 1968.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Legacy of Lorado Taft in Oregon, Illinois

John Phelps was the first European settler to visit the area that later became the city of Oregon, Illinois. He was very impressed with the forests and river valley and built a cabin in 1833. The Potawatomi and Winnebago Native Americans had roamed the area for generations. The Illinois General Assembly chose Oregon as the county seat of Ogle County by 1836. Although Oregon existed as a community for a number of years, it was not recognized as a city until April 1, 1869, when it was organized under an act of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois. The Ogle County Courthouse was built on the corner of Fourth and Washington Streets in 1891.

Lorado Taft first became acquainted with the area in 1898 when he and several colleagues founded the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony on a Rock River bluff north of Oregon. The members of the group, all Chicago artists and staff members at the University of Chicago art department or the Art Institute of Chicago, built the colony on land owned by Chicago attorney Wallace Heckman. The colony flourished as a source of scholarship, natural beauty, and continual visitations until 1942 when Ralph Clarkson, the last living member of the colony, passed away. Acquired by Northern Illinois University of 1951, the site was converted into the Lorado Taft Field Campus and now serves as the university’s outdoor education and conference center.

The Oregon Public Library was established in 1872 and moved into a newly constructed Andrew Carnegie library building in 1908. The library was designed by Chicago architects Allen B. Pond and Irving K. Pond, original members of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony. A second floor gallery was included in the architect’s plans, and the colony artists used the space for art exhibitions and speeches. Lorado Taft persuaded his colleagues to donate more than fifty works of art to the library collection, and they continue to be on display. The Oregon Public Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 9, 2003.

Aware of its rich cultural history and the presence of many artistic creations, Oregon city leaders recently developed a Sculpture Trail featuring many sculptures. Lorado Taft is well represented along the trail. Taft’s The Eternal Indian statue stands 125 feet tall above the Rock River in Lowden State Park overlooking the city. Located on the lawn of the Ogle County Courthouse, Taft created The Soldier’s Monument, which honored the county’s war veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and World War I. The Lorado Taft Fountain is located in Mix Park and features two kneeling boys holding fish by a shallow pool.

For further reading:

Call, Keith. Oregon, Illinois. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.

Mongen, Charles, ed. The Story of Oregon, Illinois Sesquicentennial 1836-1986.
Oregon, Illinois: The Book Committee, 1986.

Stilson, Jan. Art and Beauty in the Heartland: The Story of the Eagle’s Nest Art Camp at Oregon, Illinois, 1898-1942. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2006.

Thomas, Stephen P. “Lorado Taft and Chicago’s Oregon Trail.” (Paper presented at the meeting of The Chicago Literary Club, November 16, 2009).

Lorado Taft Bibliography

Bach, Ira J. & Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide to Chicago’s Public Sculpture.
Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Barnard, Harry. The Great Triumvirate of Patriots: The Inspiring Story Behind Lorado Taft’s Chicago Monument to George Washington, Robert Morris, and Haym Salamon. Chicago, Illinois: Follett Publishing, 1971.

Call, Keith. Oregon, Illinois. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.

Coon, Richard A. & Nancy C. Coon. Remembering a Favorite Son: The Story of Lorado Taft. Elmwood, Illinois: Elmwood Historical Society, 2003.

Craven, Wayne. Sculpture in America. New York, New York: Thomas Crowell Company, 1968.

Fliege, Stu. Tales and Trails of Illinois. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

Garvey, Timothy J. Public Sculptor: Lorado Taft and the Beautification of Chicago. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Goode, James M. The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974.

Graf, John & Steve Skorpad. Chicago’s Monuments, Markers, and Memorials. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Gray, Mary Lackritz. Loop Sculpture Guide. Chicago, Illinois: Department of Cultural Affairs, 1990.

Lanctot, Barbara. A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Architecture Foundation, 1988.

Riedy, James L. Chicago Sculpture. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Sculptors. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Company, 1990.

Scheinman, Muriel. A Guide to Art at the University of Illinois. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1995.

Stilson, Jan. Art and Beauty in the Heartland: The Story of the Eagle’s Nest Art Camp at Oregon, Illinois, 1898-1942. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2006.

Taft, Ada Bartlett. Lorado Taft: Sculptor and Citizen. Greensboro, North Carolina: Mary Taft Smith, 1946.

Taft, Lorado. The History of American Sculpture. New York, New York: Arno Press, 1969.

Taft, Lorado. Modern Tendencies in Sculpture. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1921.

Volkmann, Carl. Lincoln in Sculpture. Springfield, Illinois: The Illinois State Historical Society, 2009.

Weller, Allen Stuart. Lorado in Paris: The Letters of Lorado Taft, 1880-1985. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985.

Weller, Allen Stuart. “Lorado Taft, the Ferguson Fund, and the Advent of Modernism,” in The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910-1940. Sue Ann Prince, ed. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

The Eternal Indian

The Eternal Indian
Location: Lowden State Park, Oregon, Illinois
Dedication: July 1, 1911
Medium: Reinforced Concrete
GPS Coordinates: N 42° 02.049 W 089° 19.993

Lorado Taft and a group of his Chicago friends established the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony on a bluff overlooking the Rock River near Oregon, Illinois, in 1898. The colony was located on land owned by Chicago attorney Wallace Heckman who leased the property to the group. The charter members of the art colony included Lorado Taft, Wallace Heckman, Ralph Clarkson, Oliver Dennett Grover, Charles Francis Browne, Henry B. Fuller, Hamlin Garland, Horace Fiske, James Spencer Dickerson, Allan B. Pond, Irving K. Pond, and Clarence Dickinson.

During the following years, it became customary for the members to walk along the Rock River bluff, stand with their arms folded over their chests, and watch the sunset. One day in 1905, Lorado Taft reflected on the possibility that Native Americans in past years had stood in the same position on the same spot and also watched the sunset. In 1907, Taft proposed to John Prasuhn, a young German sculptor from Chicago, the idea of creating a giant Native American concrete statue on the river bluff. Prasuhn had experience in engineering and constructing concrete bridges. Taft chose concrete as the medium because he had seen a concrete smokestack being poured at the University of Chicago. He thought that he could construct a statue using the same techniques.

Taft started the project by drawing a sketch. Then he created a small clay mock-up and crafted a six-foot representation of his vision. Art colony member Hamlin Garland served as the model for the figure. In order to determine the proper location for the statue, Taft placed a wooden frame on a wagon and moved it back and forth on the bluff until the site looked good from the town of Oregon. He recommended that the statue be at least fifty feet tall so it could be easily seen. Prasuhn started to work at the site in the fall of 1909 and built the body of the figure using steel rods, wire, and wood. The coming winter halted the project, and a big storm destroyed all they had accomplished the previous year.

Taft and Prasuhn restarted the project in the summer of 1910. Twenty-eight men began pouring concrete on December 20, 1910, and worked day and night in sub-zero weather for ten days. Water was pumped up from the Rock River, two hundred feet below the site. The Portland Cement Company donated the cement for the project. The temporary shelter erected around the site was warmed by steam engines. The massive head of the statue, sculpted by Taft in another location, was hoisted in place. The statue was allowed to cure through the rest of the winter and into spring. When Taft and Prasuhn returned to the site in the spring of 1911, they discovered that all their hard work had not been in vain. A forty-eight foot tall Native-American of great majesty and grandeur emerged from the plaster mold. Over the years, the statue has been associated with the Sauk leader Black Hawk, even though Lorado Taft dedicated it to all Native Americans.

The Eternal Indian was dedicated on July 1, 1911, and dignitaries from throughout Illinois came to the event. Oregon resident and future Governor Frank Lowden served as Master of Ceremonies. Teacher and lecturer Edgar Bancroft gave the principle address. Noted Santee-Sioux Native American physician, Dr. Charles C. Eastman, responded to Bancroft’s address. Members of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony Elia Peattie and Hamlin Garland also addressed the assembled audience. Lorado Taft spoke briefly after the other speakers finished. “If I even did anything spontaneously, it was this. It grew out of the ground. That is what I hope it may suggest. I think I was a little foolhardy, or I never should have begun it. I’m sure that I never could have carried it through alone. Good fortune sent to my aid Mr. Prasuhn, a sculptor from the Art Institute, who had previously done much as a civil engineer, and knew all about cement. He became interest in my project and undertook the enlargement and the cement work. The statue is a memorial to Mr. Prasuhn as well as to the Indian.” Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay wrote the poem The Black Hawk War Of The Artists to honor the occasion. On November 5, 2009, the National Park Service listed the statue on the National Register of Historic Places. An image of The Eternal Indian was included in a mural for the Lincoln Highway Coalition project in Oregon.

Mother Nature has not been kind to The Eternal Indian over the past 100 years. It was struck by lightning in 1939, and John Prasuhn supervised the repair of the damage. Other restoration efforts were made in 1945 and 1973. At the time of the 75th anniversary of the dedication in 1986, cracks and spalling were repaired with an epoxy mixture. An earthquake on February 10, 2010, caused further damage. The State of Illinois is collecting funds to again repair the statue, and the cost of the work was estimated to be $400,000. The Oregon Trail Days festival was started in 2010 as a fundraising effort to repair and restore the famous statue. The centennial of the dedication of The Eternal Indian was celebrated at the Lowden State Park during the annual Oregon Trail Days on July 16-17, 2011.

For further reading:

“The Birth of the Blackhawk Statue.” Taft Times. Northern Illinois University Lorado Taft Field Campus. Winter 2006.

“Building Lorado Taft’s Big Indian Statue.” The Monumental News. October, 1912.

Fliege, Stu. “Rock River Valley, Lorado Taft, and the Black Hawk Statue.”
Tales & Trails of Illinois. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

Green, Chris. “Oregon Campaign To Restore Black Hawk Statue Extended.”
Rockford Register Star. January 5, 2011.

Hild, Theodore W. “The Rock River Colossus.” Historic Illinois.
Vol. 32, No. 5. February, 2010.

Kenyon, Theo Jean. “Taft’s ‘Black Hawk’ Sculpture Marks 100th Year On River Bluff.” Peoria Journal Star. July 18, 2010.

Lennon, Maurice F. “Lorado Taft’s Blackhawk.” The Greyhound Traveler.
September, 1929.

Stilson, Jan. Art And Beauty In the Heartland: The Story Of The Eagle’s Nest Art Camp At Oregon, Illinois, 1898-1942. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2006.

Taft, Ada Bartlett. “Black Hawk.” Lorado Taft: Sculptor And Citizen. Greensboro, North Carolina: Mary Taft Smith, 1946.

Wolfe, Rachel. “The Eternal Indian.” Outdoor Illinois. Volume XIX, Number 7.
July 2011.

Vachel Lindsay


To be given in the manner of the Indian Oration and the Indian War-Cry.

The Black Hawk War Of The Artists

Hawk of the Rocks,
Yours is our cause to-day.
Watching your foes
Here in our war array,
Young men we stand,
Wolves of the West at bay.
Power, power for war
Comes from these trees divine;
Power from the boughs,
Boughs where the dew-beads shine,
Power from the cones
Yea, from the breath of the pine!

Power to restore
All that the white hand mars.
See the dead east
Crushed with the iron cars—
Chimneys black
Blinding the sun and stars!

Hawk of the pines,
Hawk of the plain-winds fleet,
You shall be king
There in the iron street,
Factory and forge
Trodden beneath your feet.

There will proud trees
Grow as they grow by streams.
There will proud thoughts
Walk as in warrior dreams.
There will proud deeds
Bloom as when battle gleams!

Warriors of Art,
We will hold council there,
Hewing in stone
Things to the trapper fair,
Painting the gray
Veils that the spring moons wear,
This our revenge,
This one tremendous change:
Making new towns,
Lit with a star-fire strange,
Wild as the dawn
Gilding the bison-range.

All the young men
Chanting your cause that day,
Red-men, new-made
Out of the Saxon clay,
Strong and redeemed,
Bold in your war-array!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Lorado Taft Museum

Lorado Taft was born in Elmwood, Illinois, on April 29, 1860, and lived there until his family moved to Champaign, Illinois, in 1871. After his death in 1936, his ashes were later scattered in the Elmwood Township Cemetery. To keep Taft’s memory alive in his hometown, local citizens established the Lorado Taft Museum that is housed in the Elmwood Historical Society building. The Mary Wiley Public Library in Elmwood and the Lorado Taft Museum each exhibit collections of Taft memorabilia. The museum includes a Lorado Taft Room and a replica of his Chicago studio. The museum staff recently printed a twenty-page compilation of Taft’s artistic creations entitled Located Works By Lorado Taft. The museum is located at 302 North Magnolia Street, Elmwood, Illinois, and is currently open by appointment only. To schedule a tour of the Lorado Taft Museum, contact Wanda De Ment at 309-635-3618.

Visitors to Elmwood should also visit one of Lorado Taft's most creative sculptures, The Pioneers. Located in Central Park, Taft agreed to donate his work for this project if the town officials could raise the necessary money to cast the sculpture and provide the base for it. The Pioneers was unveiled and dedicated on May 27, 1928. When Taft died on October 20, 1936, his ashes were later scattered in Elmwood Cemetery. The spot is now marked by the sculpture Memory, a replica of a bronze statue entitled Foote Memorial Angel. Lorado Taft created this statue in 1923, and it is located in Jackson, Michigan. Memory was dedicated in Elmwood Cemetery on April 29, 1938.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Biography of Lorado Taft, Part 3.

Lorado Taft had long envisioned the creation of a Dream Museum, a building dedicated to the exhibition of casts of all the greatest sculptures from all over the world. One possible site for the museum was the Palace of Fine Arts or the Fine Arts Building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Unlike the other buildings from this Chicago World’s Fair, this structure was constructed with a brick substructure under its white plaster façade. It originally housed the Columbian Museum, later the Field Museum of Natural History. The site was left vacant when a new Field Museum was opened near downtown Chicago in 1920. Taft led a campaign to raise funds to restore the building and convert it into his Dream Museum. City officials authorized the expenditure of five million dollars to restore the building. Unfortunately, while Taft and his wife were traveling in Europe, philanthropist Julius Rosenwald changed the focus of the project. The Fine Arts Building became the Museum of Science and Industry instead. In the early 1930’s, Taft approached officials from Los Angeles and suggested that his Dream Museum be built on a site in Griffith Park. He received help from his brother-in-law Hamlin Garland and Los Angles Times publisher Harry Chandler. Taft went on the lecture circuit to generate financial support for his Dream Museum. The museum would have cost two million dollars back in the 1930’s. The museum staff organized a premature groundbreaking ceremony on February 9, 1934, and Taft dug out the first shovel of dirt. Because of the Great Depression and Taft’s declining health, sufficient funding never materialized for the construction of his Dream Museum.

Taft’s considerable speaking and writing skills were put to good use in his later years. He published The History of American Sculpture in 1903 and Modern Tendencies In Sculpture in 1921. In collaboration with Frederick Ruskstull, he spoke against the modern and abstract tendencies in sculpture. Taft also gave hundreds of “clay talks” during that time. He actually modeled pieces of clay into numerous shapes as he made his presentation. From early drawings to the casting of plaster, Taft illustrated the various processes of creating sculpture. Taft also gave a series of free lectures in the Chicago area during the 1920’s. His speeches in front of soldiers camped on the Chicago lakefront were very popular as they were sprinkled with Taft’s memorable humor.

Perhaps his greatest legacy to his alma mater, the University of Illinois, is his Alma Mater Group sculpture that now stands in front of Altgeld Hall on the university campus in Urbana. The sculpture was unveiled and dedicated in 1929 and was originally placed behind Foellinger Auditorium. The university also granted Taft an honorary Doctor of Laws degree the day of the dedication and established the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art a year later. Taft continued to work until just before his death on October 30, 1936, not long after he traveled to Quincy to attend and speak at the dedication ceremony of his Lincoln-Douglas Debate plaque.

For further reading:

Coon, Richard A. & Nancy C. Coon. Remembering A Favorite Son: The Story Of Lorado Taft. Elmwood, Illinois: The Elmwood Historical Society, 2003.

Garvey, Timothy J. Public Sculptor: Lorado Taft And The Beautification of Chicago. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Handy, Jeanne Townsend. “Celebration of Nature: The Art of Lorado Taft’s Illinois.” Illinois Issues. December 2010.

Stilson, Jan. Art and Beauty in the Heartland: The Story of the Eagle’s Nest Art Camp at Oregon, Illinois 1898-1942. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2006,

Taft, Ada Bartlett. Lorado Taft: Sculptor And Citizen. Greensboro, North Carolina: Mary Taft Smith, 1946.

Weller, Lewis W. Lorado In Paris: The Letters of Lorado Taft, 1880-1885. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985.