SHELBYVILLE, Ill. (WAND)- School district leaders are contemplating how to preserve a large painting featuring President Abraham Lincoln.
The painting, which shows a debate between Abraham Lincoln and Anthony Thornton, was painted by Shelbyville artist Robert Root and finished in 1917.
“(Root) got pictures and old tin types, Daguerreotype, from family members of those who attended the event in 1856 and, over a period of approximately 15 years, he worked on that painting,” said Ed Boedecker, who has studied and collected Root’s work.
The Shelbyville School District owns the painting and has long loaned it to the Shelby County Bar Association. It now hangs in a county courtroom.
Recently, workers pointed to signs of damage on the painting. The painting has been kept under plastic amid roof leaks. District leaders have consulted outside groups about the painting’s condition.
“We’re in the process of finding out what might be damaged, what repairs may need to be made, and then we can get our information together to hopefully move forward with the best way to preserve that painting,” said school board member Jake Hankins.
Hankins said the district must consider costs when seeking to preserve the piece.
“The painting is owned by the district but is, in turn, owned by the Shelbyville taxpayers,” Hankins said. “We have to be good stewards of those funds, and so we have to make sure that what we’re doing, we’re making good financial decisions.”
Boedecker said he hopes the painting’s remains in Shelbyville.
“It’s a piece of our heritage that should be kept here, and I’m not the only one who feels this way,” Boedecker said. “If it needs to be restored or cleaned again, I’m sure there are people who would help the school in that endeavor.”