Virden History Mural deemed irreparable, will be repainted instead

Residents of Virden, Illinois, had hoped last year to restore the deteriorating Virden History Mural along Route 66.

However, the mural was deemed unsalvageable, and it will be repainted from scratch with a whole new design.

Here is a preliminary artist’s rendering of the soon-to-come mural:

The husband-and-wife team of  Bernie Gietl and D.L. Whitlock-Gietl of Carlinville, Illinois, will paint a new mural on the 125-year-old Sav-Mor Pharmacy building. They will use a different paint this time that’s much more durable, plus a clear-coat protective finish.

The committee aims to raise $17,000 for the project by spring. Donations may be mailed to Virden Mural, c/o The Sly Fox, Box 117, Virden, IL 62690.

The State Journal-Register said the new mural will use some components from the old mural (including Route 66) and add new ones, including 1920s gangster Charlie Birger, area coal mines and aviator Charles Lindbergh.

The newspaper reported the earlier 52-by-19-foot mural was taken down this fall after an inspection revealed severe weathering, mold or mildew and peeling protective sealant of the four images.

It reported:

The former mural by Greenville artist John Hubbell was dedicated Aug. 27, 2004. The Virden Mural Committee had hoped that the existing panels could be restored.

Artists from Girard and Carlinville determined that it wasn’t feasible to repair the mural.

“The panels, everything came down. What was up there was beyond repair,” said Suzanne Gray, committee chairman.

The mural faced Illinois Highway 4, the earliest alignment of Route 66. Highway officials moved U.S. 66 east in 1931 to the Litchfield and Mount Olive areas.

The first panel on the mural contained an early scene of a settler on the prairie. The second showed Virden founder John Virden and the Virden Hotel. The third showed aviator, balloonist and photographer Melvin Vaniman, a Virden native. The fourth displayed Virden’s downtown, a train, an old car and a Route 66 sign.

(Artist’s rendering of the new Virden History Mural by The Virden Recorder via Suzanne Gray; image of the previous Virden History Mural in 2005 by Jimmy Emerson, DVM, via Flickr)

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