Highland Mural –History Becoming a Flight into the Future
Made possible in part by a $10,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a mural was designed and painted on the side of the Weinheimer Community Center at the corner of Main and Pine Streets in Highland, Illinois, by Robert and Liza Fishbone of On the Wall Productions from St. Louis, Missouri. They were assisted onsite by Andy Cross (set painter for The St. Louis Muny Opera), and Lisa Roth. Deborah “Moe” Moellering painted the three cut out figures installed next to the mural. Check out Mr. Weinheimer’s likeness to the photo inside the building!
As you turn off Broadway onto Pine Street, you’ll see one archway with a road and a street sign which reads: “Highland/Looking Glass Prairie” on one sign, “Sursee, Switzerland” on another and “New Orleans” on the third. And so, our history lesson begins…
The first settlers of Highland came from Sursee, Switzerland, by boat into New York, up the Hudson River to Albany, by canal to Buffalo, then Lake Erie by steamboat to Cleveland, Ohio, by the Ohio canal to Dresden and then a flatboat down the Muskingum River to Marietta, and down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and north to the St. Louis Area. The settlers wrote back to relatives following them that this way of traveling was most tedious, and they would find an easier path by going to the south entrance of the Mississippi River through New Orleans. Most of the settlers coming after that time, came through New Orleans.
The settlers from Switzerland named their town New Switzerland in 1831, but when it was platted in 1837, it was given the name Highland. During the year 1840, the postmaster was advised that Highland’s name should be changed to Helvetia since there was a town named Highland near Chicago. But because the Highland near Chicago was renamed Highland Park, Helvetia became Highland once more in 1843. Highland had many nicknames for various areas like Looking Glass Prairie. The farmers found that clearing the prairies covered in grass was easier to complete than clearing wooded areas before planting.
Turning the corner of the building, you will see representation of several icons of Highland’s history. The first schoolhouse was used as a church as well as a school, but it burned down in 1850. The German Evangelical Church, which had been using the schoolhouse for services, decided to build the “Stone Church” on Methodist Hill (Zschokke & 12th Streets) and is represented by the first icon on the mural.
The bell tower icon in the first arch to the left of the church represents the bell tower that was originally atop the first Highland City Hall. Keep an eye out for it because it is being revived and placed in the block east of the current City Hall, preserving some of Highland’s history in the new parking lot on Broadway. Jonathon Pierce, of Boy Scout Troup #8040 in Highland, is planning to build flower boxes to be placed around its base as part of his Eagle Scout Project.
To the left of the bell tower in the mural is the Bosshard Monument, which is currently in Lindendale Park. Heinrich Bosshard lived in Highland and was well-known in Switzerland for writing the poem “The Song of Sempach.” The poem, which is about the Battle of Sempach which gave Switzerland its independence from Austria on July 9, 1386, was set to music by J. V. Wehrle using the title “Sempacherlied.” Ultimately, the song became one of Switzerland’s anthems.
Higher on the mural is a representation of the Schott Brewery, which was established around 1887. After 100 years of playing an important part of life in Highland as a brewery, it succumbed to its competition after World War II. Many weddings and graduating seniors still use the front of the building as a backdrop for photos.
A horse and plow represent the first industry around Highland because early settlers needed to provide food for the family. Corn was an important crop for the initial settlers to provide grain for cornmeal to eat and to feed horses and livestock. Sheep provided wool for clothing, and livestock provided meat to sustain the family.
The dump truck represents the innovative mind of C. J. Hug who provided employment for many people throughout the years. After an eclectic career, he became a major builder for Pet Milk Company. For his business, he needed a type of truck that wasn’t available as yet, so he designed and built his own and turned that design into a thriving business building trucks for other companies. He invented the Hug Turntable, a unit that could turn around a truck loaded with concrete. In fact, his biggest contribution to the City was to hatch the idea of paving every street in Highland at the same time. The project began in 1928 and ended in 1929. The cost was $360,000 with the 3000 residents of Highland bearing the cost.
The railroad is represented because it arrived in 1867 bringing visitors to party on the weekends. Highland had more taverns than many surrounding cities, so it was the place to ride the rails into on Friday and back home on Sunday. While railroad builders and partiers were in the City, a business boom hit. Temporary jails were set up in what is now the Masonic Temple to house those that got out of hand.
The Weinheimer Community Center is an icon in itself. In 1947, F.W. Weinheimer (whose likeness is found on the painted cutout) left $150,000 to the City of Highland to build a recreation center in memory of his parents who had operated a drug store at Laurel and Main. The restriction was that the City had to raise an additional $50,000 and provide a site for the building. Turner Hall was located on the land where the Weinheimer Community Center is now, but the organization had disbanded, and the building was donated to the City. With a vote of 4 to 1, the citizens of Highland took on the challenge of raising the $50,000. The citizens succeeded, and by 1952, the Weinheimer was constructed where the Turner Hall had once been. By 1986, 200,000 people per year were using the facilities of the Weinheimer.
The painted cutouts of the three figures bring the mural together to show how the ideas of the past have swelled into the future. The young boy next to Mr. Weinheimer’s likeness is holding a reproduction of the first milk can produced by the Helvetia Milk Condensing Company, which eventually became Pet Milk Company. Notice that the three of them are wearing roller skates, one of the highlights of activities at the Weinheimer Community Center. Notice that Mr. Weinheimer’s skates are vintage to honor the past merging with the present.
The red, yellow, white, and orange ribbon traveling from the past and into the future is representative of the heart and spirit of every settler who moved thousands of miles from home to a place that spoke another language to build a new and better life for their families. Its shape is wide and narrow to represent the changes of prosperity and necessity that have brought the City and its residents to the current state. The ribbon explodes with white doves to represent flying into the future with freedom and peace.
The white stars that pop around the birds flying in the sky are representative of the snowflake lights that grace our City Square during Christmas season.
And did you see the UFO in the second panel from the left to remind you of the reported sighting around Highland and the Metro-East in 2000?
Not all of Highland’s history could be represented on the mural. There was the windmill of 1858; the Eagle Hotel, a stagecoach stop for visitors; the Highland Embroidery Works; and many other businesses that have graced our City. We hope you will think of all of them as part of Highland’s wonderful past and help us to create a city full of creativity and innovation.
Bricks engraved with the words of people who love the City will fill the landscaping below the mural. If you are interested in participating in putting a brick at the base of the mural, check the Highland Arts Council website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-558-0054.
The Highland Arts Council thanks the National Endowment for the Arts for its grant, the City of Highland for the use of the building and workers to set the concrete at its base, Arts & Education Council/Bayer Rural Fund Community Arts Program for its grant, Korte and Luitjohan for their generous donation of power lifts and scaffolding, and each citizen who purchases a brick to support this endeavor. It truly is a community project.
Highland Arts Council
The Highland Arts Council actively promotes the Arts in and around the community of Highland, through a variety of activities and projects.
HAC provides a showcase for local artists and an educational opportunity
for many members of the community to be exposed to the Arts.
HAC enriches people's lives through the appreciation of the Arts and
providing educational opportunities involved with the Arts.
The Highland Arts Council is always looking for new and exciting ways to
promote all areas of the Arts as well as providing budding artists, both
young and old, new and creative ways to showcase their art.
Feel - and share with others - the exhilaration of the Arts by becoming a member of the Highland Arts Council today!
HAC Mission Statement:
» Create a forum for people who share a love and interest in the Arts.
» Promote local appreciation for the ARTS through community events that create enthusiasm and add cultural value.
» Provide a venue for the appreciation and exposure of local artists.
» Encourage community access to professional artists and a variety of art forms.
» Foster and promote community youth involvement in the Arts.
The monthly meetings of the Highland Arts Council are held the first Monday of the month, 6:30 p.m. at the Highland Chamber Office, 1216 Main St, Highland, IL 62249. Come join us!
Art of Soul Begins February 16, 2023
Join us for Art of Soul. It is five weeks of classes on Thursday evening from 7 pm - 9 pm at the Evangelical UCC Social Hall in Highland, IL. Learn five different projects. Cost is $40 for all five classes and material is included. See more information here.
Register for 2023 Art of Soul below by clicking on the Buy Now Button.
Pave the Way to NEA Matching Grant
You, too, can have a brick,To get an order form for your participation, click here.
We know that the Weinheimer Building was built to bring our community together, and it has done that since 1949 through the generosity of forward thinkers within the city. Help us honor the building and memories made there and deepen its value through art on its wall.
The HAC is extending an invitation to citizens, businesses and organizations from the community who see the value in creating beauty in our city. We encourage you to partner with us to develop a mural that will bring people into our community and expand the local economy. As a donor, you will share ownership of Highland’s newest community art.
Now, YOU have the option to contribute by purchasing a brick or granite slab, which will include the name of the person you wish to honor or remember, your or your family’s name, your business’ or your organization’s name. These bricks will be laid in the space at the base of the Weinheimer’s west wall to commemorate every business, organization and/or person who knows the value of keeping art alive in our city. There is limited space so don’t delay.
Read more about the grant below. To get an order form for your participation, click here.
Highland Note Cards
These note cards of a few Highland icons are perfect to send to friends and relatives away from our city and support the Highland Arts Council with your purchase. Read more.
HIGHLAND ARTS COUNCIL RECEIVES GRANT FROM
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
The Highland Arts Council (HAC) has been notified that they will receive a $10,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant was designated for a mural to be placed on the west wall of the Weinheimer Building to honor its past and to shine a light on the future of Highland and the Weinheimer Building as a part of the community.
“This was quite an honor for the Highland Arts Council,” reported Lynnette Schuepbach, president of the organization. “A representative for the NEA actually called us to ask if we wanted to apply for the grant. It was unusual to have a national organization call us, but we received it as an honor and applied. This is the second time that the NEA has shown confidence in HAC and its mission to bring art to the community, and the community has stepped up to match the grants. We are honored and thrilled.”
Schuepbach continued, “Because the building is over 50 years old, we needed approval from the Highland City Council and the State Historic Preservation Office as part of the grant process. Since we are not damaging the structure of the building, we received the approval. The Highland Arts Council is proud of its Art Walk and the ways in which art has enhanced our city. We plan to expand the Art Walk and build Highland’s reputation to be the Arts Mecca of the Metro East as a Mural City.”
This grant will help bring renowned artists from St. Louis, Robert Fishbone and his daughter Liza, to paint the mural after the design has been approved by the HAC and the City Council. In addition, there may be an opportunity for people from the community to paint part of the background of the design, under the artists’ directions, to make it an interactive experience. This interaction of the community will continue the purpose of the Weinheimer Building, which was built to bring our community together. It has done that since 1949 through the generosity of forward thinkers within the city.
The HAC is extending an invitation to citizens, businesses and organizations from the community who see the value in creating beauty in our city. We encourage you to partner with us to develop a mural that will bring people into our community and expand the local economy. As a donor, you will share ownership of Highland’s newest community art. Engraved bricks will replace the small area of landscaping in front of the wall. People of the community and beyond have the option to buy a brick to keep Highland’s history moving forward and to help match the grant. Honor or remember you or your family’s name, your business’, or your organization’s name. These bricks will commemorate every business, organization and/or person who knows the value of keeping art alive in our city. To receive an order form, call 618-558-0054, email or download it here. Pave the way for community art.
Join Highland Arts Council to Support the Arts
Everyone who has a passion for the arts and the desire to join a wonderful community organization is welcome in the Highland Arts Council! You may join as a Student, Individual, Family, Corporation, or Lifetime. Whatever your situation, you will be surrounded by friends who also love the Arts.
We have a lot of fun and we work hard to promote the Arts in the Highland community. We have long time members and we have new members. We welcome those who have lots to contribute and we we welcome those who can only contribute a little. Either way, the Arts Council can be whatever you choose to make it and we're glad to have you... consider becoming a member today!
If you prefer not to register online, but would like to join, download a Membership Application!
Membership meetings are scheduled for the first Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at the Latzer Memorial Library in Highland.
You are invited to attend, but are NOT required to attend as a member. If you choose to help with any of our programs, send an email to HAC membership chair. Click here.
Some of the HAC's Activities include:
» Art in the Park
Held in October, Art in the Park is an outdoor exhibition of works by nearly 70 professional artists at Lindendale Park in Highland, Illinois.
Artists from throughout the country display fine arts in a variety of media.
The members of the Highland Arts Council organize, plan, and produce this event - one of the
Highland community's highlights during the year.
» Art of Soul Workshops
Art of Soul is a five-week session that meets on Thursday evenings from 7 pm - 9 pm at the Evangelical United Church of Christ to experiment with five different mediums. It began in 2013 partially funded by a grant from the Highland Area Community Foundation. HAC has presented mediums such as watercolors, polymer clay, ceramics, pastels, acrylic painting, origami, felting, and alcohol inks on tiles. You can expect to see many new things each year. HAC has been excited to see representation from 22 surrounding communities with 50 - 70 people attending each year. Learn more..
» Street Art Festival
The streets around Highland's Square become a canvas on a weekend in September. Artists turn the streets into works of art using chalk and the event has become on of the most unique art events in the area. The HAC helps to sponsor the Street Art Fest and also organizes an Art Expo where local artists showcase their work during the event.
» Youth Arts Expo
HAC highlights the music, drama, and visual arts presented by youth from middle schools and high schools from Highland Community Schools and surrounding schools. It's an opportunity to show the creativity and brilliance of our young people.
Art Walk » Public Exhibitions of Art
The Highland Arts Council looks for opportunities to showcase,
sponsor and display artwork throughout the community of Highland.
One of the council's latest efforts is an on-going exhibition of art at
Pop Pop's Custard and Coffee.
Brady Kesner and Lynnette Schuepbach of the HAC are shown with a mural created at Art in the Park 2010. Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis and Director of Parks and Recreation, Mark Rosen joined them as the murtal was installed for all to see on the Highland Community Pool building.