Prominent mural of Evanston history ‘accidentally’ destroyed


Daily file photo and Kaitlin Svabek/Daily Senior Staffer

Left: The mural depicting the history of Evanston, composed by an ETHS graduate, pictured in 2009, before the re-painting. Right: A man walks past the newly painted walls near the Hertz rent-a-car business. The Green Bay Road mural was painted over by a landlord who mistook it for graffiti.

Ciara McCarthy, Reporter

A beloved mural painted on a Metra retention wall on Green Bay Road was unexpectedly removed in recent weeks, according to a news release sent out by the city of Evanston on Wednesday.

The 110-foot mural depicted scenes and figures from Evanston’s history. It was painted on a viaduct near the intersection of Green Bay Road and Emerson Street by Theodore Boggs, a graduate of Evanston Township High School.

Evanston’s Public Art Committee was alerted to the mural’s removal at their meeting Monday evening, and the news surprised some members.

“It kind of came as a shock to us that the whole thing was painted over,” said the committee’s chair, Ryan Hall.

Although the committee learned of the mural’s disappearance Monday, people who lived and worked in the area said that the mural was painted over at least two weeks ago.

Mario Sanchez, the manager of Pep Boys Auto, 1911 Green Bay Road, said he was unsure exactly when the mural was painted over but guessed that it had been between three and four weeks ago. Sanchez recalled he saw two men covering the mural with gray paint and approached them to try and intercede, but the men persisted.

“I tried to tell them, ‘You’re destroying part of the history of this place,’” Sanchez said.

At their meeting on Monday, the Public Art Committee discussed what to do with the void left by the mural. Although details of its removal is unknown, Hall said that the landlord of a building occupied by Hertz at 1901 Green Bay Road ordered the mural’s cover-up because he mistook it for graffiti. The mural was a timeline of Evanston’s history and featured writing, images and graffiti as part of its artistic representation. Hall said the landlord did not realize that the graffiti in the mural was art. According to Hall, the landlord was very apologetic for his mistake and has offered to pay for the replacement of the mural.

“It was a mistake,” Hall said. “He didn’t realize what he was doing.”

Hall added that although Hertz’s Green Bay Road business is new to Evanston, the property landlord is not.

Among the options the Public Art Committee considered is asking the mural’s artist, Boggs, to re-create his work.

“All the options are on the table right now,” Hall said.

Boggs created the mural, entitled “A Loose History of Evanston,” in 2002 as his senior studies project, according to the news release.

Members of the neighborhood surrounding the mural mourned its loss.

“I think that it was beautiful,” Sanchez said. “It showed a representation of Evanston and its diversity.”

Sanchez said he was frustrated by the mural’s removal and he would like to see it replaced.

Shamarah Hurt, an employee at Hecky’s Barbecue, 1902 Green Bay Road, said she admired the mural for years, and it had taught her and others about the creation of Evanston. She said in recent weeks, many customers have come in to Hecky’s asking about the disappearance of the mural, which had previously lent character to the neighborhood.

“I’ve been working here for over a year, and I could always see the mural from the store,” she said. “Now it’s just all blank and gray; it looks so empty. They should never have removed it.”