Monday, August 26, 2013

Karel Havlicek Monument

Karel Havlicek Monument, 1911
Josef Strachovsky
Museum Campus
In the median of East Solidarity Drive, east of South Linn White Drive

In the late 19th century, a group known as the Bohemian Societies of Chicago spent six years raising money to create a memorial for the esteemed patriot,  Karel Havlicek (1821– 1856). A writer, poet, critic, politician and publisher, he is considered the first Czech journalist. He played an important role in the Czech National Revival and wrote numerous articles advocating constitutional reform and national rights. He is considered a martyr because he died soon after an unjust arrest and four years of exile. Josef Strachovsky (1850–1913) was a Prague-based sculptor, who had already produced a monument to Havlicek in 1907 and made two castings, located in the Czech communities of Ziskove and Kuttenberg, and he was selected for the commission. Dedicated in July 1911 in Douglas Park, festivities included a parade with elaborate floats followed by a procession. Governor Charles S. Deneen and Mayor Carter Harrison II did the unveiling.
In 1976, the communities of Cicero and Berwyn, which both have large populations of Bohemian and Slovak Americans, asked the Chicago Park District to relocate the frequently vandalized and damaged monument to one of the two suburbs. It was removed from the park in 1981 and, after a request by the Czechoslovak Society of America, a new location was found. In 1983, the monument was conserved and installed on Solidarity Drive between Kosciusko monument to the west and Copernicus monument to the east. Portions of the sculpture’s original granite exedra were demolished when it was placed in its current location.

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