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History comes alive as Lyons commemorates 125th anniversary

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 4:20 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Jerry Moore - jmoore@shawmedia.com)
Lyons Mayor Chris Getty stands next to a painting of Mueller's Brewery, which operated in the mid- to late 1800s along the Des Plaines River in Lyons. The artwork was created by Joseph Antos in 1898. It is on display in the Lyons Village Hall.

LYONS – At a time when the village is commemorating its 125th anniversary, Lyons residents are working to preserve and showcase key parts of its history.

Visitors to Village Hall, 4200 Lawndale Ave., can view a 115-year-old painting of Mueller’s Brewery, which operated on Ogden Avenue in the mid-1800s. Measuring 15 feet wide and 7 feet tall, the painting was created by artist Joseph Antos in 1898.

“It looks fantastic, absolutely fantastic compared to other times I’ve seen it,” said Lyons Mayor Chris Getty, who added the village recently had the painting cleaned and encased in a prominent location. “When it was formerly displayed, it had no lighting. The setting didn’t do the painting justice. Now it’s in a setting where people are able to see it up close.”

The family of Walter Neher, owner of Neher’s Tavern, donated the painting to the village in 1976, Getty said. Antos worked on the painting while at Neher’s Tavern, which was located across from Mueller’s Brewery on the other side of the Des Plaines River. The village had it restored in 1981, Getty said.

For a while, the painting was displayed up high in the old Village Hall building, Getty said. This made it difficult for people to see the painting and appreciate it details, he said. It also had been in storage for many years.

Getty directed village staff members this spring to clean the painting and place it lower to the ground where people can see it. He said the response to the painting from people at Village Hall has been phenomenal.

“We’ve had two different types of receptions to the painting: People who haven’t seen it for many years and are rediscovering it, and then people who are shocked that it was in Lyons and never knew about it,” Getty said. “Overall, we’ve received nothing but compliments and enthusiasm about the painting.”

Getty said plans are in the works for different events to commemorate the town’s 125th anniversary. The main celebration will be in August, he said. There also will be a special float in the Fourth of July Parade.

In addition, the village has placed 6-foot banners on street poles throughout the community, Getty said. There are more than 100 of these banners, and this project has been sponsored by local businesses, he said.

Nadine Pankow, president of the Lyons Historical Commission, said members of this group are excited about making residents aware of the community’s rich history. One of the projects they are working on is to place old slideshows onto DVDs so they can make presentations about key aspects of Lyons’ history.

Commission members also have advocated for funds to restore the facade of the Hofmann Tower, Pankow said.

“The inside is great; it’s the outside that’s falling,” Pankow said. “Rain gets in there, so it’s popping, and that’s the dangerous part.”

Pankow said the rehabilitation project was estimated at about $400,000 a few years ago. Warnings to legislators have not yielded any results on restoring the tower, she said. There are five floors of the community’s history inside, and it’s vital to preserve it before it’s gone for good, she said.

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