Excerpts from bookclubchicago.org:

A decades-old mural painted to memorialize firefighters who died in a massive arson fire is getting a facelift.

Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is teaming up with the city to restore the Fireman’s Memorial Park mural overlooking the intersection of Diversey, Milwaukee, and Kimball avenues. Originally painted in the mid-’80s after the deadly fire, the mural has deteriorated in recent years from extreme weather.

He is using about $50,000 in aldermanic discretionary funds to replace the crumbling mural, and is working with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on a new mural, expected to debut this fall.

Chicago firefighters Daniel Nockels, Michael Forchione, and Michael Talley died Feb. 1, 1985, while battling a massive fire at 2847 N. Milwaukee Ave. The fire was classified as arson., and an investigation ruled that the owner of an electronics store in the building had hired someone to set fire to the building for the insurance money. Both men were charged, but the case against one was thrown out after a judge ruled police obtained his confession illegally. The other was convicted of aggravated arson and murder in 1986.

Fire officials and city leaders dedicated a small park just south of the site of the deadly blaze to the three firefighters and commissioned an artist to paint a mural in tribute. The mural, which depicts the firefighters with angel wings, was originally painted on the Bank of America building next to the park, but it was later moved to its current location.

The mural was retouched in the early 2000s, but it has since fallen into a state of disrepair. Chunks of it have broken off, and the wood and steel structure holding it up has pretty extensive water damage.

City officials are putting together an advisory panel of local artist to select the muralist for the restoration project. Construction is expected to begin next month. The existing mural’s panels will be preserved by the city.

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