Long-Awaited Statue Restoration Set To Finish By Year's End

Dec 27, 2019

Lorado Taft's statue before restoration began.
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Restoration of a monumental Illinois statue is scheduled to finish by year’s end. 

Lorado Taft called his statue in Lowden State Park overlooking the Rock River near Oregon “The Eternal Indian,” but it’s known to many as Black Hawk.

Crystal Curfman is the executive director of the Illinois Conservation Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She said once work is finished, scaffolding and protective tarp will be taken down. Then remaining work on the plaza around its base will be done.  

Curfman said the restoration is a tribute to all involved.

“This is just a great example of the community coming together,” she said. “A great example of a public-private partnership. This is a national historic landmark, so it’s a win for the Oregon community, it’s a win for our state parks.”

Curfman said both arms had to be replaced on the 108-year-old statue. Major work also had to done on the head and other parts of the statue before a final layer of concrete could be sprayed on and shaped to match Taft’s original work. 

It took years of fundraising and legislative haggling before the restoration was assured. Now, Curfman said, the foundation is putting donations that continue to come in for the statue in a restricted fund.

“So that we don’t end up with this issue, you know, twenty years down the road, or even ten,” she said. So that’s really positive for the statue.”

Curfman said a date has yet to be set for an official public unveiling.