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Creating the world’s largest Monopoly board in Macomb

Macomb Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
courtesy image

The woman who invented the game that eventually became Monopoly was born in Macomb. The community plans to honor her and celebrate that connection by developing the world’s largest Monopoly board on its courthouse square.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” said Jock Hedblade, Executive Director of the Macomb Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“It’s probably going to start out as an app, where you would be able to play it, roll the dice, there will be trivia involved with it, you will be able to move from storefront to storefront around the downtown area.”

He envisions making prizes available, such as discounts at businesses around the square.

Hedblade said the CVB will also have four large sculptures made and installed on the four corners of the courthouse square. They will reflect the look and design of Monopoly’s silver game pieces.

One will be a life-sized sculpture of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie, who created the Landlord’s Game, the predecessor to Monopoly.

“What an incredible, trailblazing woman she was – as a feminist, as an inventor, as this independent woman in a Victorian period. That just didn’t happen,” said Hedblade.

He called Magie an important figure who the world needs to know about.

Another of the sculptures will combine the Landlord’s Game and Monopoly.

“You will actually see a representation of the board game. Half of the game will be the original Landlord’s Game, the other half will be the Monopoly board that you know now, split in half so you can see how absolutely similar they are,” Hedblade said.

The other sculptures will include a “giant-sized” spinning dice and an Abraham Lincoln stovepipe hat.

Hedblade said the sculptures will be created locally by Gabe Stevens of Masterpiece Customs.

Hedblade eventually would like to make the sidewalks around the square look like a Monopoly board. But whether this is possible remains a roll of the dice.

“How that develops, what the city is willing to do with the sidewalks, what ideas we can come up with -- we’ll see how this all works out,” he said.

“But that is the ultimate vision. And I think part of that is just having something that the community can tangibly see, can tangibly work with and play with so they can understand what it is that we’re trying to do.”

He said this could be done by painting the sidewalks or using LED projections.

To help launch the first phase – the app and the sculptures - the CVB received a $40,000 grant from Illinois’ Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant Program.

The CVB will need to match the grant. Hedblade said they will be using the Macomb Area Community Foundation for donations. It is a 501 (c) (3) so donations are tax deductible. Checks can be sent to the foundation with the notation Monopoly c/o Macomb City Hall.

“We want the community to be a part of it and have a little skin in the game so they can have some ownership of it too,” Hedblade said.

His goal is to unveil the app and sculptures on May 9, 2024, which will be the 158th anniversary of Magie’s birth.

Grant funding also headed to the Western Illinois Museum

The Illinois Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant Program also awarded $24,000 to the Western Illinois Museum in Macomb.

The museum will use the money to support the improvement and relocation of its indoor Our Front Porch program and exhibit space. It’s part of a multi-year capital improvement project to develop a new exhibit and program area in the underused portion of its building.

The museum said its capital campaign has been supported by foundations and more than 200 community members who have contributed $250,000.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.