EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A controversial mural from 1969 over the way it depicted slavery will be destroyed. The mural at the public works building in Edwardsville was changed in the late 1980s after Black residents said it was offensive and portrayed a negative stereotype.
The demolition work on the building was underway on Monday. It is being transformed into The Station on Main, a $20 million mixed-use development with restaurants, residential, and office space. In 2018, FOX 2 reported that some residents wanted to save the mural from being destroyed.
“Each one of those tiles is glued to a concrete block wall, so if this mural goes, that concrete block wall is going with it,” Edwardsville Alderman SJ Morrison said at the time. “Which really complicates the situation. We would have to build a structure big enough to support this wall, and then find the right place to do that.”
The mural, which was a gift to city leaders, is currently covered. Cathy Hensley, a communications coordinator for the city of Edwardsville, said some pieces of the mural were not intact.
“It was ceramic tile, and it was attached to unreinforced masonry,” Hensley said. “So, my understanding is that over time and exposure to the elements, it made it difficult to remove–impossible in some cases–to remove it intact.”