When he designed the Illinois Centennial Monument in what is now known as Logan Square, Henry Bacon probably didn’t envision people supporting its restoration through the sale of beer.
After all, the sculpture was completed in 1918 — two years before Prohibition.
But Bacon may not have realized the cost associated with maintaining a monument that is 70 feet tall and nearly 100 years old.
A group of neighborhood businesses have teamed up to create a beer that went on sale Wednesday in an effort to raise money to restore the monument, which sits in the grass in Logan Square, surrounded by West Logan Boulevard.
The beer, called Monument, is made by Revolution Brewing and will go on sale at 25 bars and eateries June 17. A dollar of each sale will go to Logan Square Preservation, a nonprofit community organization, to spend on repairs to the massive sculpture.
Best known for his work on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Bacon designed the centennial monument to mark the first 100 years of the state of Illinois.
Acting as a sort of greeter for the neighborhood, the monument is recognizable for its marble column and eagle. Around the base are carved reliefs by sculptor Evelyn Longman that combine both classical imagery and modern technology from the early 1900s to depict what Illinois brings to the nation.
Built through the B.F. Ferguson Fund, named for a wealthy merchant who left his fortune to the city of Chicago to construct monuments, the centennial is supposed to be maintained using the same fund, according to Andrew Schneider, president of Logan Square Preservation.
Because the monument is so tall, there are special costs associated with maintaining it, according to Suzanne Schnepp, who runs the fund out of the Art Institute of Chicago.
But the Ferguson fund is also used to maintain 19 other monuments around the city, and after 100 years the money has dwindled, Schnepp said.
Bringing the monument back to its original condition, which includes restoring the lamps, benches and plaza it sat on, could cost at least $50,000, Schneider estimates.
“We wouldn’t have any of the money to do that,” Schnepp said.
Schneider said the idea for a fundraiser for the monument came from a discussion he had with Peter Toalson of project development studio Land and Sea Dept. Land and Sea owns popular neighborhood restaurants Longman and Eagle, which is named for the monument, and Parson’s Chicken and Fish.
The ale, fittingly made with a variety of hops called Centennial, will be available on draft at a long list of restaurants that include Longman, Parson’s, Boiler Room, Logan Arcade and Rocking Horse, according to a release from Revolution Brewing.
“The monument is a cherished, significant center to the neighborhood, and one of its defining elements,” Toalson said in an email.
“Beautification and restoration projects in Logan Square are important to us as stakeholders, and we applaud and support the Logan Square Preservation group’s efforts where we can.
“When we became aware of the scope of the work, and the funds needed to accomplish this work, we felt compelled to find a creative, fun way to raise both awareness and funds to help facilitate the work.”
Logan Square Preservation will work with the Ferguson fund and the city to determine what projects on the monument need tackling.
“It shows how personally people take their responsibility in this neighborhood. [It shows] how committed this community is to looking after its heritage,” Schneider said.