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Lincoln-Douglas debate mural to be removed, stored

The mural depicting the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate, held in adjacent Washington Square, is to be removed and stored as part of the building's renovation.
The mural depicting the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate, held in adjacent Washington Square, is to be removed and stored as part of the building's renovation.

If you like looking at the dramatic Lincoln-Douglas debate mural in downtown Ottawa it may be time to take a photograph.

Plans are underway to dismantle the 90-by-20-foot painted mural depicting the 1858 event and put it into storage until a new wall can be found where it can be reassembled for display.

The mural’s removal will be part of the redevelopment of the former Woolworth building where it was unveiled in July 2007.

The mural’s removal was presented to the City Council last June as part of a redevelopment plan by CL Enterprises, which owns both the former Woolworth building and the adjacent former Carson’s building.

The mural wall is to be reconfigured to allow doors and windows for small retail shops and dining spots.

Another proposed feature of the building’s renovation is a rooftop garden cafe overlooking a market plaza on Jackson Street and Ottawa’s historic Washington Square — where the debate was held.

The proposed market plaza would continue to support the summer farmers market and other special events. Other times it would be open for active pedestrian use. There also would be paver-brick surface, seating, landscaping and the possibility of a water feature such as a series of water jets. It would still be a home for the reproduction vintage popcorn wagon.

Developer Peter Limberger told the council the debate connection would not be forgotten. Limberger said he envisioned a greater emphasis on the Lincoln-Douglas history, including interactive displays.

The mural removal project was discussed Monday by the Ottawa Visitors Center Board, which oversees all the murals.

The plan is to take the mural down in sections which will be padded and stored upright.

OVC Board Chairman Kevin Steward told The Times a timetable for the removal had not been set, but that the project was forthcoming.

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