A bust of Abraham Lincoln in the plaza at the Lake County Courthouse. When the statue was finally completed, two bas relief friezes were mounted on the pedestal. One frieze commemorates a visit Lincoln made to Waukegan in 1860, and the other acknowledges the city's involvement in the Civil War.
The friezes were created by Lily Tolpo, wife of the late Carl Tolpo. Her husband created the bust in 1968, but died in 1976 before the friezes were completed. He left his sketches behind, though. "I inherited all of his research, so it made it a lot easier to go ahead and finish it."
A painter, sculptor, portraitist and designer, Lily Tolpo owned a gallery in Stockton, Illinois, about 140 miles from Chicago. She had always wanted to complete her husband's work at the courthouse. "It brings this to a closure," Tolpo said of the addition of the friezes. "This has been open for so long and this bare, huge pedestal has been crying out for something."
The frieze on the east side of the pedestal at the Lake County Courthouse depicts a campaign speech Lincoln gave in Waukegan on April 2, 1860. During the speech, a fire broke out in the Case Warehouse on the "flats" along Lake Michigan. Lincoln told the crowd that the fire was more important than his speech. "I think there is a fire," he said. "You had better go and try to save the property. I can come another time and speak to you." Lincoln never returned to Waukegan, but legend has it that he spent the rest of that spring day hauling buckets of water to help put out the blaze.
The western frieze depicts a Civil War battle scene and recalls the day of April 16, 1861, when Waukegan Mayor David Ballentine called a meeting in response to Lincoln's request for soldiers to fight in the Civil War, which had broken out at Ft. Sumter only four days before. Eighty-four Waukegan men left a week later to join regiments in Chicago and New York.
Photo captured September 12, 2018.
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