On Friday, February 22, an excited group of community organizers, city officials, historians, and donors met at the Library to witness the first official unveiling of George Melville Smith’s mural, “Indians Cede the Land.” As most patrons know by now, this 1940 artwork, originally installed in the Park Ridge Post Office that once stood on South Prospect, was rescued from demolition by local history teacher Paul Carlson and kept rolled up in storage for four decades. After Carlson’s death, his heirs donated the mural to the Library with the request that it be put on permanent display.
This was all easier said than done, as the photo below of the mural before its restoration attests. A great deal of credit needs to go to the Mural Restoration Committee, which included Dr. Anthony Borelli, Richard VanMetre, Jeff Caudill, Nancy Pytel, Patricia Lofthouse, Paul Adlaf, and John Murphy, who raised the entire amount needed for the restoration (some $38,000) through dedicated grassroots efforts.
This is how the mural looked when it came to Parma Conservation in Chicago for repairs:
If you haven’t had a chance to see how the mural looks now in its permanent home in the Library, we invite you to stop by soon. In the meantime, here are a few more photos of the mural’s installation and unveiling (a second public unveiling took place on Saturday, February 23), as well as several links for those interested in checking out local coverage of the event.
For a great article by Jennifer Johnson of Pioneer Press on the dedication, click here.
Here’s another from the Chicago Tribune.
And, finally, here’s a nifty interview with Geoffrey Baer on Chicago Tonight.