Elkhart can't safely save Love mural, plan to recreate it

ELKHART, Ind. -- The City of Elkhart will begin demolishing the 1000 block of South Main St. this coming Monday due to the failing structural integrity of the buildings that line that block, including the one that displays the Kelby Love mural.

"As you enter Elkhart’s downtown from the south side, you are greeted by a larger-than-life mural at the intersection of Main and Prairie. In a response to gun violence, well-known Elkhart artist Kelby Love painted that mural as plea for peace in 1996," said Elkhart Director of Communication Corinne Straight. "Unfortunately, the buildings that make up the 1000 block of South Main are beyond repair, including the building which hosts the mural."

On Monday, the city announced that demolition of the 1000 block will begin on Jan. 8 at the north end and move south, eventually tearing down the mural.

"Since acquiring the building in 2020, the city has explored many avenues to rescue and preserve the mural. All to no avail," Straight said. "Structural reports from engineers tell us that the integrity of the wall and of the bricks themselves are too compromised to be salvageable. The city has taken the next-best-step of capturing high-quality images of the mural so it can be replicated, full-scale in the future."

City officials, along with Mayor Rod Roberson hope the city can recreate Love’s mural in a similar position to where it is currently located.

“Kelby Love was a good friend of mine, and we miss him dearly. Since becoming Mayor, I’ve wanted to find a way to save his mural and ensure his legacy on Main Street. While Kelby painted other murals in the city, for the last 25 years this one has earned monument status within our community,” Roberson said. “This was a troubled corner until Kelby finished his mural and now this part of South Main Street has garnered development interest and that is a part of Kelby’s legacy, as well. We’ve worked with Mrs. Love to ensure the mural’s legacy will live on in another location.”

This demolition is expected to take roughly a month and will make room for future development.

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