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Murals

1. Welcome to Kewanee - Artist Chris Shuster 

(Sponsored by: Community State Bank) Kewanee owes its beginnings to the construction of the Military Tract Railroad. The railroad was routed a few miles north of the existing town of Wethersfield and it became clear that to benefit from the railroad, business and industry had to move to the railroad. As a result, the new community of Kewanee was founded in May, 1854 by business leaders from Wethersfield Township including Sylvester Blish, Ralph Tenney, Henry Little and Sullivan Howard, plus Nelson Lay from Wisconsin. Colonel Berrien, the civil engineer who supervised the laying of the track through the area, was asked to choose a name and he decided on “Kewanee,” a Winnebago Indian word for “prairie chicken.” In 1921, Wethersfield’s 2,000 residents asked to be annexed into Kewanee with its 16,000 residents.

 

2. Francis Park & Woodland Palace - Artist Dave Butler

(Sponsored by: City of Kewanee) Francis Park and its “Woodland Palace” became a city park in 1926, when Fred Francis, a local inventor died in 1926 and bequeathed his property to the City of Kewanee. Fred grew up on a farm east of Kewanee and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1878. A mechanical genius, he retired from the Elgin Watch Co. after only 11 years and purchased 40 acres of land 4 miles east of Kewanee where he built a home for his wife, Jenny, and himself. He called the home his “Woodland Palace” and equipped it with his own innovations including a type of baseboard heating; wind powered air conditioning, a solarium for his wife who had tuberculosis, and much more. The park is open to the public for camping and tours. Woodland Palace is a State Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

3. Salute to Kewanee Military - Artist Mike Meyer 

(Sponsored by: VFW Post #8078; Bob & Max Jacob) The military funeral of one WW I soldier shown in the mural is intended to honor and show respect for all Kewanee area men and women, past and present, who have put on the uniform and done their duty for our country. The funeral depicted was for Sgt. Mike Mikenas in October of 1918 near the end of WW I. Sgt. Mikenas is one of 19 men and one woman from Kewanee who lost their lives in World War I. Fatalities in WW II would be greater still as 89 Kewaneeans “made the supreme sacrifice.” The WW I soldier in the center of the mural is an illustration done by Kewanee native Leroy Cyrus Baldridge, who was the illustrator during WW I for the military newspaper called “Stars and Stripes.”

 

4. Kewanee Agriculture - Artist Nancy Bennett

(Sponsored by: Preferred Home Health Care; Rachael Truninger) Kewanee has close ties to the farming community. Several local industries manufactured products for farm use, but the one that carried the label of “Kewanee” on its machinery was Kewanee Machinery and Conveyor. The company was founded in 1912 by Wallace Glidden and B.F. Baker, Kewanee Boiler vice president, and it became known as the Kewanee Machinery and Conveyor in 1930. After Wallace Glidden, his son Robert headed the company until it was sold in 1972. Even though the “Kewanee” brand ceased to be produced 1994, the name “Kewanee” can still be seen in farm fields throughout the Midwest.

 

5. Roger Reiman - Artists Dale Manor and Ted Turner

(Sponsored by: Martin Engineering) Roger Reiman came to Kewanee when his parents opened the local Harley-Davidson dealership. Roger was one of the top competitors on the American Motorcycle Association Grand National Circuit in the 1950s and 1960s - winning the Daytona 200 three times, including the first Daytona 200 held at the Daytona International Speedway. He reduced his racing schedule in 1970 when he took over running the family business, Reiman’s Harley Davidson, and also became the head mechanic for famous motorcycle daredevil, Evel Knievel. Roger was killed in a track accident while practicing for the Battle of the Legends race at the Daytona International Speedway in 1997.

6. Kewanee Streetcars - Artist Michael Clark

(Sponsored by Muselman Investments (McDonald’s); Mike & Melodee Yaklich; Will & Sue S. ) Streetcars traveled the streets of Kewanee for over 30 years, beginning in 1903 when an estimated 10,000 passengers took a free ride during the first two days of the streetcars’ inauguration in Kewanee. There were three streetcar lines, one ran east to the end of Lake Street, another south to Windmont Park and the third ran west to Kewanee Boiler plant. In 1906, the company completed track to Galva and operated an interurban service between the two towns. The streetcar business was never very profitable but service continued until the interurban to Galva came to an end in 1932. The Kewanee streetcars kept running until the end.

 

 

7. Prairie Chicken Beer - Artists Bill and Jane Diaz

(Sponsored by: Cerno’s Bar & Grill; Cernovich Auto & Truck Wrecking; Dr. Rick Cernovich) In 1904 the Kewanee Brewing Company began making Prairie Chicken beer, “the beer that makes the smile that won’t come off.” Located on the southeast corner of Main and Sixth Streets, the company’s large brewery was four stories tall with the capacity for brewing 50 barrels of beer a day. The brewery facility is depicted in the mural. The brewery operated until national prohibition began in 1920. It was not re-opened when prohibition ended in 1933. Bottled water, ice and ice cream were produced there at different times and the building was eventually torn down.

 
 
 
 

8. Cole Brothers Air Show - Artists Ben and Joe Diaz

(Sponsored by: Dennie & Dianne Packee Family; Byron Bryner Family; Peoples National Bank) In 1946, Duane Cole was a WWII air corps veteran and he enlisted the help of three brothers, Arnold, Lester and Marion to put on an air show at the newly leased Kewanee Airport. The star of the Cole Brothers Air Show was youngest brother Marion, who in 1952 won the World Aerobatic Championship. Duane was also world-class, winning two national championships in the early 1960s. Kewanee’s Byron Bryner was the first to have the “honor” of risking life and limb wing-riding a Cole Brothers plane. The Cole Brothers show came to an abrupt end in 1963 when Duane’s son Rolly, then a featured performer, was killed when his plane crashed while practicing for a show.

 

9. Kewanee Fire 1942 - Artist Kelly Thorson

(Sponsored by: Nelson, Doug, and Corey Lay Families) Early in the morning of April 13, 1942, a fire broke out in the Kewanee Dry Goods Store (formerly known as the Lyman & Lay Building) and before the fire was contained most of the three blocks in the heart of downtown had been destroyed. Kewanee Dry Goods was located on the west side of the 100 block of North Tremont. The fire destroyed 20 buildings, including most of the 100 block of Tremont (both sides) and all of the south side of the 200 block of West Second. The former Lyman & Lay building, which had been the “anchor” store of the business district since 1885, was not rebuilt. However, as Mayor Saunders declared, the rest of the burned out downtown area was rebuilt over the next few years following the fire.

 

10. Sandy’s - Artist Doug Haffner

(Sponsored by: Ken & Pam Mott Family and Ted Canellos (in honor of Ted & Penny Vlahos; Mabel Andris & Andris Family) Did you know that Kewanee was where a fast food chain of restaurants, that rivaled McDonalds in the 1960s, was founded? Sandy’s a hamburger and fries restaurant chain was founded by three Kewanee business men in 1958—Gust Lundberg, Paul White and Robert Wenger. The Kewanee men opened their first restaurant in 1958 in Peoria, which was managed by Kenneth Andris. Success followed and in 1965 they opened their 100th hometown at 425 Tenney Street. The distinctive design of the Sandy’s restaurants and their Scottish thrift theme came to an end in 1972 as Sandy’s and most of its 240 franchises from Kansas to Florida merged with Hardee’s.

 

11. Dreamland Theatre - Artist Dave Correll

(Sponsored by: Tim & Marie Sheets and Grandsons, Lennon & Liam; Dennie & Dianne Packee Family; B & B Printing; Kewanee Hospital; Aunt Daisy’s Bed & Breakfast) Long before the internet or television, or even the radio, Kewaneeans had Dreamland Theatre where they could escape from everyday life, and for just 5 cents. Established in 1907, the Dreamland Theatre was one of Kewanee’s first moving picture (silent, of course) theatres. Two other early theatres were the Bijou and Nickelodeon. Dreamland Theatre, as seen in the mural, was located at 205 N. Main St. in the Main Hotel building (now part of Good’s Furniture). It later was moved to the 100 block of West Third St. and closed in 1920.

 

12. Kewanee Industry - Artist Sonny Franks

(Sponsored by: Great Dane Trailers) Kewanee Boiler was one of the two great companies that were instrumental in making Kewanee a leader in manufacturing and industry in the Midwest. Both Kewanee Boiler and Walworth Company had their origins in Haxtun Steam Heater Company that eventually became Western Tube in 1891. When Western Tube decided to stop manufacturing boilers, E.E. Baker and associates bought that portion of the business and began Kewanee Boiler Company in 1892. Employment at the Boiler reached 1500 in the 1920s and again in the 1940s at the huge manufacturing facility that occupied 33 acres. A gradual decline began in the 1950s until Kewanee Boiler came to an end in 2002.

 

13. Kewanee Authors - Artist Andy Goretski

(Sponsored by: Boss Manufacturing; Century 21 Sutton & Associates; Fred & Shirley Leggett) Born in 1858 to early Kewanee Pioneers, George Randall Parrish published over 30 romantic novels set in historical settings from 1904 until his death in 1923. Two other native Kewanee authors were the Glidden brothers, Fred and John. Fred, the younger of the two, wrote over 50 Western novels under the pen-name of Luke Short from the mid-1930s until his death in 1976. Under the pen-name Peter Dawson, brother John published his first of 16 Western novels in 1937. He also wrote over 120 short novels or stories for Western magazines before his writing career was cut short with his death at the age of 50. Leroy Cyrus Baldridge achieved recognition speaking in pictures rather than words. During World War I he was the illustrator for the U.S. Army newspaper, “Stars and Stripes.”

 

14. S.S. Kewanee - Artist Rob Estes

(Sponsored by: YMCA of Kewanee Staff & Board of Directors; Breedlove’s Sporting Goods; Regional Media; John & Delcine Heartt Family; In Memoriam: Gordon and Genevieve Daniels (by John & Delcine Heartt; Drena Morris) For its contribution to the war effort in World War I by its three major companies (Walworth, Kewanee Boiler and Boss), the city of Kewanee was honored by the naming of a U.S. government freighter the “S.S. Kewanee”. The ship was launched on June 7, 1919 and Miss Clara Dossche, a 19-year-old employee in the molding room at Walworth Kewanee Works, was chosen to christen the ship since many Walworth products were used in the construction of the ship. The “Kewanee” was 335 feet long with 5,000 tons of displacement and was used by the Emergency Fleet Corporation, a U.S. government agency. The ship continued to serve through the end of World War II until it was scrapped in 1946.

 

15. Corn Husker Heritage - Artist Sarah Steed

(Sponsored by: Rumbold & Kuhn, Inc.; State Bank of Toulon, Sullivan Door Co.) Kewanee area played a major role in the highly popular corn husking competitions that were held from 1924 to 1941. The 1932 National Contest was held on the Peterson farm between Kewanee and Galva with an estimated 50,000 in attendance. Most of the champions used husking hooks made in Kewanee by Boss Manufacturing, which was founded in 1889 to make corn husking gloves and implements. During the 1890s the company began producing cotton gloves also and soon became one of Kewanee’s top employers. The National Corn Husking Hall of Fame is located at the Kewanee Historical Society.

 

On July 10-14, 2013 over 200 Walldog Artists descended upon Kewanee for their 2013 Walldogs Meet “A Hog in Dog Heaven”. The result: 15 beautiful and vibrant murals scattered throughout Kewanee’s Downtown area. The four day meet was organized by the Kewanee Walldogs Host Committee, and hundreds of volunteers from throughout the community and surrounding area.