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Keokuk to Cover Fire Debris with Mural

Joyce Glasscock
Crews removing the mural that will be placed in front of the former Redemption Center in downtown Keokuk

Keokuk has a temporary solution for addressing an eyesore in the downtown district. It will place a large mural in front of what remains of the former Redemption Center, which was destroyed by fire in May.
The white, two-story building was a drop-off site for aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Now it's a large pile of charred, black wood and recyclables with a couple barricades and sections of orange fencing to keep people away.

Mayor Tom Marion said the debris pile is close to one of Keokuk's busiest intersections, 7th & Main, so the city wanted to do something to give drivers and pedestrians a better view as they drove or walked by. His initial idea was to place a giant canvas between the two neighboring buildings for local artists to decorate.

"And then Joyce [Glasscock with Main Street Keokuk] suggested... we have this sign," said Marion. "It's a very nice sign with Mark Twain and some historic Keokuk things on it that we could put up there so we have someone who is going to put that up."

The mural, which was painted on several pieces of wood, previously hung on the side of the Keokuk Heritage Center, above Estes Park. It was taken down and replaced with a mural commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the construction of the dam between Keokuk and Hamilton.

Marion said the mural will be placed at ground level so it can also serve as a deterrent for people wanting to enter the property from Main Street. He stressed this is just a temporary solution until the site can be cleaned up.

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
The mural will block what remains of the building from view along Main Street.

There is no timetable in place for that.

Marion said the city has not had any luck working with Brian Boyd, who owns the property, on cleaning up the site. Keokuk requested clean-up bids, but Marion said they came in much higher than what the city could afford.  The mural is expected to be installed in the next few weeks.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.