MERRILLVILLE | Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society Museum officials unveiled the latest South Shore painting and poster Sunday to kick off the year-long celebration of the Old Lincoln Highway’s 100th anniversary.
Mitch Markovitz, founding artist of the South Shore poster series, was joined by his 14-year old son, Matt, for the introduction of the poster commissioned by the historical society with the support of the Dean & Barbara White Foundation.
“We started this project more than a year ago,” said Dan Kleine, the project manager for the poster commissioning and a member of the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society board. “The whole idea was to build awareness that the Old Lincoln Highway is 73rd Avenue, just outside the museum’s front door.”
In his oil-on-canvas painting that is reproduced as a poster, Markovitz of Knox, creates a scene from 1929 when the Lincoln Highway was a major thoroughfare that led to Broadway and then north to Gary and Chicago.
“This was a prosperous time before the Great Depression,” Kleine said.
Part of the original highway first dedicated on Oct. 31, 1913, 73rd Avenue was a hub of commerce as portrayed in the poster.
A 1929 Model-T Ford travels down the Old Lincoln Highway going west from Broadway. A Standard Oil gas station frames one side of the poster. In the bottom left corner is the original Lincoln Highway concrete post featuring an arrowed directional sign and a bronze medallion of Abraham Lincoln’s profile. These posts were set by the Boy Scouts of America all along the highway in 1928.
“My son, Matt, suggested that I put the medallion at the bottom of the painting,” said Markovitz, smiling at his son.
Markovitz signed posters purchased by guests at the event. Unsigned posters also will be available for sale at the museum, 13 W. 73rd Ave.
“In the next year, we’re doing a series of talks that tie into the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway dedication,” said Alice Smedstad, co-president with Roy Foreman of the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society.
Jeff Blair, Indiana’s national director on the Lincoln Highway Association, traveled from Leesburg, Ind., to witness the poster’s unveiling.
“Last year, I walked the Lincoln Highway west from Ohio to Illinois for charity. Next May, I’m going to walk east from Illinois to Ohio and I’ll pass right by here on the first day,” Blair said.
Also in the audience was U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville.
“I’m a Merrillville resident. I saw the notice about today’s event and came as a resident of Merrillville. I’ve been on 73rd Avenue twice today,” Visclosky said. “Mitch really captures the spirit of the era in this poster.”
The Winamac Old Auto Club and The Early Ford V-8 Club also showed off some of their vintage cars on the museum’s front lawn Sunday.