PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — 110 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt called Grandview Drive, in Peoria Heights, the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Drive.’
Now a local artist, Lonnie Stewart, along with developer Kim Blickenstaff, are immortalizing that legacy right where the saying started.
Stewart is currently working on the 18-foot-tall bronze statue. It will portray Teddy Roosevelt riding horseback, carrying an American flag.
Stewart says this is to honor who Teddy was, while paying tribute to the famous ‘World’s Most Beautiful Drive’ quote he said.
“He was very impressed with it. It’s a gorgeous drive, you have to admit. You could be anywhere in the world. Especially when the sail boats used to be out all the time,” Stewart said.
The base of the statue will be made out of Presidential Granite. Roosevelt himself, if standing on the ground, would be 9-feet-tall by himself.
Stewart hopes the statue will be up near Grandview Drive by spring of 2021.
“He’s such a national hero, an all persons person. I think people loved him here and they identify his image as a rough rider, something that grabs the heart of America,” Stewart said.
The statue is being made by artist Lonnie Stewart and commissioned by entrepreneur Kim Blickenstaff. Stewart said the bronze statue will depict Roosevelt in his “Rough Riders” stage.
“It’s an image of strength and character,” Stewart said. “That’s what Kim wanted, and I agree.”
The 26th president’s connection to Peoria Heights goes back to when he declared Grandview Drive “the world’s most beautiful drive,” the inspiration behind WMBD’s call letters.
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