ENGLEWOOD — A little-known statue of Abraham Lincoln in Englewood has fallen into such disrepair that some residents wonder if passersby even know who the statue pays tribute to.
The 3-foot high concrete statue of Illinois' favorite son has been a fixture at 69th Street and Wolcott Avenue for nearly 90 years. However, in the last several years it has become dilapidated, and residents want it restored to its previous glory.
"There used to be a time when it was cleaned up. Now no one takes care of it," said Pearlin Fields, 74, who lives in the 6900 block of South Wolcott Avenue. "If the statue is going to be there, the least someone could do is wash it every now and then."
Not much else exists where the statue stands, next to a bus stop and shuttered auto repair shop. There is no plaque explaining the significance of the statue or why it was erected.
The repair lot was previously home to the Lincoln Gas Station. The station was owned by Phil Blomquist, who had the statue erected in 1926, city historian Tim Samuelson said. The gas station was named after the street it was on, Lincoln, which was renamed Wolcott Avenue in 1936, Samuelson said.
Not much else is known about the statue.
"No photos or definitive reason why the statue was created in the first place exist," Samuelson said, "at least not in the history books."
Fields said when she moved to the area 39 years ago "It used to look just like him with a black tux on and everything. But over the years the paint has tarnished, and it has been mocked a few times with graffiti."
Marcia Fair, 48, who has lived on the block for more than 30 years, said the statute is in such disrepair she doubts if the average person in the neighborhood knows the statue is supposed to be of the nation's 16th president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in 1863. The 204th anniversary of Lincoln's birth was Tuesday.
Horace Williams, a resident of the block for 30 years, said someone needs to take ownership of the statue.
"I am not sure why that stopped, but people around here would wash the statue and paint it. They took care of it as if it was their property," said Williams, 67. "I would say [for] the last four or five years, nothing has been done to it."