Abraham Lincoln returns to Illinois 200 years later.
Thanks to the enormous energies of two world-class woodcrafters and a philanthropic Crystal Lake resident, a commissioned, 10-foot-tall wood sculpture of Abraham Lincoln has taken up permanent residence at the Dole Mansion.
Woodcarvers Don Morris, of Rock Falls and Bernie Boyle of Crystal Lake, along with Crystal Lake resident and philanthropist Louise LeCoque have completed a joint effort to develop a remarkable statue of the 16th president of the United States.
LeCoque envisioned the idea after seeing an image of a drawing of Abraham Lincoln from a June 2004 “Chicago Tribune” article, which was a reproduction from an 1864 image from “Harper’s” magazine. She was so enamored with the image that it spurred the creative idea; it seemed natural to add the original art to the Dole legacy.
The imposing woodcraft sculpture was carved out of a dead Bur Oak removed in October 2007 from the Dole property. The 14-foot log was sent on a journey to Rock Falls. Both woodcarvers crafted a series of three clay models in 12-, 16- and 24-inch configurations, which were ultimately transformed into a full-length pattern for the unique presentation of Lincoln.
Morris and Boyle worked for hundreds of hours on the clay models, initially with chain saws, grinders and chisels.
“Don and I worked extremely well together, and with Don’s credentials, I let him take the lead on the project,” said Boyle. “We really clicked. The final project is amazing.”
LeCoque indicated that the final design exceeded her expectations and those of her husband, Erv.
“This is truly an unparalleled interpretation of an awe-inspiring person,” said Louise. “Regardless of the time of day you view the statue, this presentation will move you.”
Viewers can experience the impressive figure, which is neatly positioned in an alcove in the Lincoln Room at the Dole Mansion.
“This is our gift to Crystal Lake, the county and to our country,” LeCoque said. “We can help to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday, his heritage and his contributions to our country.”
Without the initiative of LeCoque and the hard work of the two woodcarvers, the Bur Oak probably would have been removed from the Dole property and turned into firewood. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.
At approximately 900 pounds and 10-feet tall from the base to the top of his head, Abraham Lincoln has returned to Illinois.
Commmemorative Lincoln Birthday Party
One of Abraham Lincoln’s commemorative birthday celebrations in McHenry County will take place on February 21 at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake. This will also be the official unveiling of the Lincoln statue at the Dole Mansion.
Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration takes on a very special meaning, especially at the end of this election year, which featured former Illinois Senator, President Barack Obama’s election.
The Lincoln 200 Committee, which includes Tina Hill, McHenry County Board member; State Senator Pam Althoff, 32nd District; State Representative Jack Franks, 63rd District; State Representative Mike Tryon, 64th District; and Ken Koehler, Chairman of the McHenry County Board, have all contributed to the planning for the February event.
For more information, call Tina Hill at 815-347-4222 or visit www.alincoln200.com.
Abraham Lincoln has helped to shape the lives of countless Americans. Here is some insight as to how he has influenced some local political leaders.
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Aaron T. Shepley Mayor, Crystal Lake
“To this point, Abraham Lincoln remains America’s greatest President. In my opinion, second place is not even in sight. Lincoln was a humble man who worked for everything he achieved. He is the embodiment of American ideals and the virtues of work ethic as a means by which to achieve goals.
He was a courageous leader guided by a moral compass notably lacking in many presidents before and after him. If I were only permitted to emulate one leader, past or present, it would absolutely be Abraham Lincoln. My favorite quote is from Lincoln: ‘Whatever you are, be a good one.’”
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State Representative Mark Beaubien 52nd District
“The life of Abraham Lincoln, his words and his actions, have been taught to all of us from the time we were small children. Lincoln lived his life with the bedrock of essential qualities, and for me, both as an attorney and banker and now state legislator, the most important have been integrity, fundamental fairness, respect for others, complete honesty, compromise and brevity.
Without integrity and others knowing that your word is your bond, you are lost. Without respecting others and fighting for fairness in every aspect of your dealings, you will not make much progress and the results will not be meaningful. Without compromise and listening to all sides of an issue, solutions to difficult problems can never be achieved. Complete honesty means that you always tell the truth, even if it isn’t what people want to hear. And brevity, of course, means you don’t just speak to hear yourself talk—you speak when you really have something to say, a quality sadly lacking in today’s political discourse. Reading the original source, Lincoln’s own words, can give all of us guidance in life’s lessons and in the principles that ought to be important. So to close, two of my favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln: “I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.” and “Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.’”
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Kenneth D. Koehler
McHenry County Board Chairman
“Abraham Lincoln’s vision of America is an expansive and inclusive republican example of fundamental human rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be enjoyed by all Americans, and ultimately for all humanity. His ability to “keep to his resolves” and to steadfastly purse his vision of freedom and equality continues to evoke the American ideal of “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” His vision for America is a model and inspiration for me as a public servant for the people of McHenry County.” * * * * *
State Representative Jack Franks
When State Representative Jack D. Franks was first elected to the Illinois State House of Representatives in 1998, House members attended an orientation in Springfield, which included a private tour of the original capitol building. At the end of the tour, members took a seat in the old House Chamber to continue the orientation, where Representative Franks unknowingly sat down in Abraham Lincoln’s seat. The status of Lincoln’s chair lends itself to an unspoken rule that no one sits there, so Representative Franks’ seat of choice attracted much attention from the other members. He thought, “Wow, what a connection to a bit of history,” and felt it was a special experience to share the seat of such an influential political figure.
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State Representative Michael W. Tyron
“President Lincoln is revered for protecting the most sacred freedoms of each American. His commanding ability to unite our nation—bringing enemies together for a common cause—truly shaped the strength of our nation. With the prevalence of political fighting in Springfield, Lincoln’s leadership to bring people together is truly inspiring. I am committed to being someone who is not divisive, but rather considers both sides of an issue and does what is in the best interest of the people I serve. Lincoln is known for his ethics and character, which are badly needed in Illinois where corruption has become commonplace. I will continue to fight for ethics reforms and work to protect the good government our forefathers worked so hard to create.”
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Tina R. Hill
Tina Hill, McHenry County Board member
“Lincoln’s 200th birthday, on its face, may simply appear to be an opportunity to celebrate the State of Illinois’ greatest contribution to American history, politics and government. However, in today’s current political climate in our state, it is an opportunity to remind ourselves and our elected officials of Lincolns’ vision of how government should conduct itself.”
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State Senator Pam Althoff
“Being a strong proponent of improving the business climate of Illinois, while being a champion for equitable education, senior health issues as well as people with disabilities, women’s issues and the need for transparency in state government, I feel as if I am following the principles that Abe Lincoln has set forth for legislators and our county on the whole. In Lincoln’s own words, ‘It is not, can any of us imagine better? But, can we all do better? The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise—with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.’”