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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2000

Illinois Presidential Bell Rings at Republican National Convention in Philadelphia
Murphysboro, Ill. Blacksmith Designs Steel Bell with Images of Illinois Presidents for Convention of Bells, Tour of Illinois this Fall

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The Illinois Presidential Bell, featuring images of three Illinois presidents, is on display this week as part of the Convention of Bells at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

"The Illinois Presidential Bell is a fitting tribute to Illinois' three distinctive presidents -- Lincoln, Grant, and Reagan," Ryan said. "All of these great leaders not only called Illinois home, but are also an important part of our state and national history. And that's why we're proud to honor their service with our entry into the Convention of Bells."

Through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA), Murphysboro, Ill., artist/blacksmith John Medwedeff, designed the 250-pound steel bell using images of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and Ronald Reagan.

According to Convention of Bells organizers, the concept of the Convention is based on the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, in which several states recreated Liberty Bells out of materials that represented their states. Today, 124 years later, the City of Philadelphia created the Convention of Bells as a forum for states to showcase their unique products, culture and features.

The Illinois Presidential Bell will be one of more than 30 bells representing U.S. states and territories at the Republican National Convention, and will be on display in Philadelphia from July 26 through August 3.

After Philadelphia, the Illinois Presidential Bell will tour the Presidential Pathways of Illinois, including Reagan's home in Dixon, Ill., Grant's home in Galena, Ill., and Lincoln's homes in New Salem, Ill., and Springfield, Ill. Plans are underway for the bell to be permanently housed in the soon-to-be-constructed Lincoln Presidential Library.

"Illinois has always had much to offer in terms of presidential history. Now with our Illinois Presidential Bell touring the Presidential Pathways, Illinois visitors can walk away with a real sense of these three men and their places in history," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough.

Medwedeff, who also designed sculptures for the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Ill., was awarded a contract for the Bell in early July after the Art and Architecture Program of the Capital Development Board received a grant for $32,723 from DCCA.

Using repousee, a raised ornamental metalworking technique achieved by hammering the reverse side, Medwedeff and his team of six hammered the faces of former presidents onto the 2.5-foot bell.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA), Bureau of Tourism, works to promote Illinois as a travel destination, thereby enhancing the state's economic development climate and improving the quality of life for the citizens of Illinois.



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