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Lincoln Highway Mural Program comes to close

Other murals in Morrison, Dixon, Rock Falls, elsewhere

STERLING – Sterling’s 19th mural was also the 35th in the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition’s 36-mural series along the historic highway.

The mural, a five-piece work of art on the north side of Grummert’s Hardware in downtown Sterling, was dedicated Friday afternoon.

Mayor Skip Lee said the city was proud to be part of the Lincoln Highway Program, which placed its final mural in Rochelle Oct. 10, just hours after Sterling’s mural.

“What we’re doing with the Lincoln Highway murals project is a team effort and a lot of work,” the mayor said Friday from the parking lot of Crescent Electric Supply Co., just across the street from the mural. “And we’re proud to have so many murals here in Sterling, Illinois, and we certainly thank everyone who has made that possible.”

The Lincoln Highway mural program started in 2006. The program has paid for murals in Rochelle, Rock Falls and Dixon, in addition to Sterling, among Sauk Valley locations.

Jen Hoelzel, the Illinois deputy director of tourism, said the program has helped to connect all 35 communities.

“You’re connected by the Lincoln Highway, and now you’re connected by an artistic pathway,” she said. “You clearly already understand the importance of murals, the importance of art in Sterling. But now you’re part of this larger Lincoln Highway Coalition.”

First local mural in 1995

The Sterling Mural Society, which was formed in 1995, installed its first mural, titled “Old Downtown,” on west wall of the Lawrence Building, at Third Street and First Avenue.

This month, the Sterling Mural Society merged with Sterling Main Street. Patty Martinez, of the mural society, said being under the oversight of Main Street will be a “breath of fresh air” to the organization.

There are no immediate plans for a 20th mural, Martinez said, adding that the focus will be on repairing and maintaining what the city already has.

Sterling’s Lincoln Highway mural is one of two in the program made up of more than one painting. Its five pieces depict early 1940s advertisements for an NBC national radio program, The Lincoln Highway Radio Show, which was broadcast on 80 radio stations, according to a news release.

Sue Hronik, the program director at the Lincoln Highway Coalition, said the dedication was “bittersweet” because it meant the mural program was completed.

“We’re very proud and very thankful for Sterling to partner with us,” she said. “And for letting us show everybody some of the history of the highway and display some wonderful artwork to give everybody that sense of pride and good will that it brings, I think, to every community.”

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