Murals in Charleston

1920's Charleston Storefronts 
by Glen C. Davies (Urbana, IL)
On Madison Avenue at 6th Street

The storefronts shown, taken from locations around the Charleston Square, are the Model Barber Shop (414 6th Street), Goodwin Brothers Grocery (307 6th Street), The Corner Confectionery (623 Monroe Avenue) and Alexander's Department Store (521 7th Street).

Lincoln's Last Journey to Charleston
by Diann Graham (Charleston, IL)
On 5th Street at Monroe Avenue

Shortly before he left for Washington for his March 4, 1861, inauguration, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln made his last journey to Charleston to bid farewell to his friends and family.  He arrived on a freight train, and there were no formalities to welcome President-elect Lincoln. A witness recalled that he was unceremoniously dropped off “in the mud several hundred feet down the track”  from the station.

Lincoln Saying Goodbye to Sarah Bush Lincoln
by Glen C. Davies (Urbana, IL)
On 5th Street at Jackson Avenue
On January 31, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln bid farewell to his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, at the Moore Home located south of Charleston. At their farewell, legend has it that Sarah had a premonition -- this would be the last time she would see her beloved stepson.  On Lincoln’s death, she is quoted as saying: "I knowed they'd kill him. I ben awaiting fur it."  The Moore Home, now a State Historic Site, is located seven miles south of Charleston on South 4th Street. 

The Second Coles County Courthouse, c. 1858 - 1898
by Rebecca Sawyer Spoon (Charleston, IL)
based on a pen-in-ink drawing by Jim Donahoo, Charleston, IL)

617 Madison Avenue 

It was in this courthouse that a lawyer named Abraham Lincoln handled dozens of cases from the early 1840s to 1857, including the famous Matson Slave Trial of 1847.  The second Coles County Courthouse sat in the center of the Courthouse Square where the present Coles County Courthouse now stands.  Built in 1835, new wings were added beginning in 1858 that changed the building’s appearance.  In 1898, the courthouse was completely demolished, except for one cornerstone, and rebuilt as it appears today.

The Charleston Riot of 1864 
by Rebecca Sawyer Spoon (Charleston, IL)
520 Jackson Avenue

On March 28, 1864, a gunfight erupted on the Charleston Square between Union soldiers and Civil War opponents known as “Copperheads” -- pro-southern Democrats.  A large crowd had gathered for a Democratic rally, and Union soldiers were in town on leave.  Fighting broke out between the groups. Nine men were killed and twelve wounded before troops arrived from Mattoon to quell the riot.  Hostilities between pro-Union Republicans and Copperheads was not new to eastern Illinois -- before the Charleston Riot, Copperheads had been killed in Mattoon and Paris. The Copperheads, convicted in the subsequent trial, were later pardoned by Lincoln.

Coles County Courthouse and Charleston Square in 1912
by Mark Monken (Charleston, IL)
On Van Buren Avenue at 6th Street

This mural shows the Coles County Courthouse and Charleston Square as they appeared in 1912 when Charleston was a booming city.  The Courthouse Square was the hub of the business district in Charleston in the early 1900s.


Charleston Arts & Entertainment Mural
by Bernard Williams (Chicago, IL)
708 Monroe Avenue

This montage of images is made up of well-known Charleston artists, theatre and opera houses, architectural details and posters of events, all dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s.  Featured are: Oscar-winning cinematographer Gregg Toland, famous for his work in 1939’s Wuthering Heights and Citizen Kane; noted folk artist Jennie Cell; silent movie star Charles Clary, known for his role in The Penalty (1920); Brown County landscape painter Paul Turner Sargent; and the celebrated folk singer and actor, Burl Ives.  All are Charleston natives except Ives, who attended Eastern Illinois University. There are also references to the historic Will Rogers movie theatre, the Lincoln Theatre, and the Coles County Fair.  This mural was co-sponsored with the Tarble Arts Center (EIU) and funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, the Jaenike Access to the Arts Fund (EIU Foundation) and Tarble Arts Center membership contributions.



520 Jackson Avenue, Charleston, IL 61920 ~ Phone 217-345-5650 ~ TTY 217-345-7517 ~ Fax 217-345-7554 ~