To enrich the cultural landscape of Lemont by fostering the production and appreciation of the arts.
Two local artists, Rob Moriarty and Mona Parry, have been tirelessly working on a new public artwork in the downtown area of Lemont. A mural depicting the Lemont Quarry Workers Strike of 1885 is livening up a large wall of Bonus Electric.
The project has been a couple years in the making and when Bonus Electric offered their building, it all came together for the project to be completed this summer. Lead artists Rob Moriarty & Mona Parry have been working on the mural most mornings (to avoid the afternoon heat.)
I caught up with Rob this morning at the mural & Mona via email yesterday. Both are very excited to bring this depiction of an important piece of history to Lemont.
Parry: “We are depicting the 1885 Massacre, this was a labor issue/dispute with Lemont quarry workers and owners. The governor called in the militia, very interesting bit of Lemont history that plays a role in the bigger picture of labor issues throughout the country at that time.”
Moriarty: “Lemont is the spark of what happened at the Haymarket Square Riot and that starts the labor movement in America.”
Rob says that the mural will feature three panels. One will show the workers organizing, another will show workers negotiating with H. M. Singer an the third will show the confrontation with the state militia.
In 1885 Lemont’s quarry workers protested low pay, long hours & hazardous working conditions by going out on strike. The state militia was called out to put down the labor strike.
Of interest is that the location of the mural is on the very location where some of the confrontation took place. The workers and their families had headed to the train station (yes, the very same train station that still stands in downtown Lemont) to meet the militia troops as they arrived on the train but the troops had stopped the train and gotten off a mile or so before the train pulled into the station. The troops then marched into town and met the workers and their families in what is now the downtown area, armed with riffles and bayonets. The resulting conflict resulted in the death of three men and injuries to many additional men as well as women and children. One of the men who was killed died in front of St. Patrick’s church and was given last rites by the pastor.
Moriarty & Parry also worked together on the “Pride of Lemont” / Rudy Kling mural on Front Street in downtown Lemont & Moriarty hopes to be involved with other projects in Lemont. Moriarty: “This mural is really the end of the story”. He would like to see additional art projects that depict more of Lemont’s rich history that took place before 1885.
The new mural is expected to be completed in early August as Rob, besides being a well known mural artist, is also an art teacher & will resume teaching at the end of the summer.
Here are some photographs of the mural in progress.