This piece was originally published three years ago. Recently, the bust of Lincoln on the corner of 69th and Wolcott was damaged again. It appears it was blackened by fire. No one knows who did it.
The statue should be restored. I tried to find out who is the actual owner. I hit dead ends. I contacted the city and received no reply.
Chicago has more statues of Abraham Lincoln than anyplace else. The six official bronze statues are designed by notable artists including Saint-Gaudens and Keck. The statues are in Oakwoods Cemetery, Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Garfield Park, and Senn Playlot.
The statues are located in Oakwoods Cemetery, Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Garfield Park, and Senn Playlot.
There is another Lincoln statue unknown to most Chicagoans. It is a bust of Lincoln that sits on the corner parkway at 69th and Wolcott, in the West Englewood neighborhood. The bust is approximately five feet high.
I came across this statue a few years ago while shooting local stock photography for a media company.
I could only find one solid reference about the statue at the time, an article from the 1990s. According to this piece, the statue was commissioned by Phil Bloomquist, who was said to own the Lincoln Gas Station, located directly behind the statue.
Bloomquist commissioned the statue in the early 1920s. It was erected in 1926. There is some confusion over who created the bust.
Supposedly the statue was an advertisement for the gas station. The inhabitants of Englewood at the time were German, Scandinavian, Italian, and other European immigrants. The Germans and Scandinavians left their mark on Englewood. Many buildings have ethnic architectural or artistic details.
Englewood was the first stop many immigrants made in Chicago. The Englewood rail station was one of the busiest passenger depots in the nation. During its heyday over 1000 trains per day pulled in and out of the station. When Al Capone left for prison in Atlanta he boarded the train in Englewood.
Wolcott Avenue was originally named Lincoln Street. The name was changed in the late 1930's. It was not unusual for a business to bear the name of the street it was located on.
Over the years the statue was painted black, spotted with black and white dots giving it a Dalmatian appearance, and tagged with gang signs.
As seen in the photographs, the current white paint is peeling away.
I recently revisited the statue and photographed it again.
The Lincoln bust is forlorn looking. It sits, weathered, chipped, and damaged. The nose is gone.
It appears it was a well-executed statue, faithful to the former president's appearance.
It is a pity this statue is slowly wasting away. Some effort should be made to restore it.
The question is, who owns it? Can the city claim ownership, as it is on city property and for all practical purposes is abandoned? Can the current owner of the property where old gas station was claim ownership? Are there any relatives of Phillip Bloomquist still living who can claim ownership?
The ownership should be confirmed.
This statue is not one of the great bronze works by Saint-Gaudens or Keck. Some real in-depth research should be done to discover who or where it was made? There were many statuary companies in the Chicago area during the early part of the 20th Century.
Some hard research, dedicated fundraising, and cooperation by and with the city could restore this statue to its original state. Some effort should be made to restore this Lincoln bust.
Chicago became an art town in the late 1800s. The wealth produced by manufacturing and commercial interests, combined with patronage from its wealthiest citizens, including their wives, and a growing colony of artists from all fields transformed Chicago from a sooty grimy gray industrial dump into a world class city.
A little patronage is in order here. Chicago has great researchers to determine ownership and provenance. A public-private partnership should be formed to restore the Lincoln bust.
For almost 90 years the Lincoln bust graced this corner. It sits gracefully eroding as years go by. It is a shame.
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