Fate of Menard statue has yet to be decided

STATUE TO BE REMOVED–The statue of Pierre Menard outside of the Illinois State Capitol is to be removed. What will happen to the statue once it is removed though, has yet to be decided. Photo by Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois.

Once a prominent politician for not just the local area but for the State of Illinois, Pierre Menard has recently fallen out of favor and a statue in his honor is being removed from the state capitol.

Born in 1766, Menard settled in the local area prior to Illinois becoming a state. At a young age, he became a successful fur trader in the Kaskaskia area. He was a member of the Illinois Territorial Council from 1812 to 1818, and played a large role in Illinois becoming a state in 1818. 

When Illinois became a state, Menard served as the first lieutenant governor. In 1822, a few years after the state capitol was moved from Kaskaskia to Vandalia, Menard left office and returned to the area.

His home, which is a state historic site, is located just a few miles away from Chester and near Fort Kaskaskia. Menard passed in 1844 and was buried at Fort Kaskaskia.

Menard’s legacy was remembered by not only making his home a historic site, but also by Menard County in central Illinois being named after him. The Randolph County Pierre Menard Democrat Club is named after Menard and holds an annual dinner with his name. The Menard Correctional Center, built on land Menard once owned, was also named after him.

However, several weeks ago, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan asked the Illinois Office of the Architect to “move expeditiously” in removing representations of both Pierre Menard and Stephen A. Douglas from the state capitol. In mid-August, a panel of four officials voted to remove the statues of Menard and Douglas from the capital grounds.

For more on this statue, please see this week’s print edition.