An 'Out-of-the-Box' Proposal To Help Save 'Black Hawk'

May 17, 2018

Lorado Taft's statue. He called it "The Eternal Indian," but most call it"Black Hawk."
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

A golf course owner is offering a large sum of money toward restoration of an iconic statue in one northern Illinois park in exchange for a long-term lease of land at another.

State Representative Tom Demmer said he received an email from Indian Oaks Club owner Bruce Novak detailing the proposal. Novak said he will contribute $400,000 toward the restoration of artist Lorado Taft’s statue, known to most as “Black Hawk,” in Lowden State Park. In return he’s asking the state to give him a 50-year lease on 100 acres in Shabbona State Park adjacent to the golf club so he can expand the course from nine to 18 holes.

Demmer said he passed along the proposal to the IDNR. He called the idea “out-of-the-box.” But, he said, given the statue’s dire condition, supporters of its restoration have to be open-minded.

“I really think it’s in our interest to entertain any idea that’s out there,” he said. "Some will work, some won’t, but we’re not ruling anything out to begin with, and hope that, you know, one of those avenues pays off.”   

Demmer said the effort to save the crumbling statue will likely require more than one way to pay for it.

“We’re pursuing community funding," he said, "so that’s one aspect that we’re looking at. I’m still pursuing the state funding that was promised previously, trying to make that come to fruition. And then this is kind of a third avenue that opened up for us to look at.”

The Dixon Republican said IDNR officials told him they would thoroughly review it. 

Illinois State Rep. Tom Demmer

The IDNR responded to an inquiry on the offer with the following brief statement:

”We will evaluate the proposal and determine our options when we receive all the information.”

A years-long effort to restore the 107-year-old concrete figure raised – and spent -- hundreds of thousands of dollars toward its goal, but came to a halt when state funding dried up in the wake of the budget impasse.