New Deal/WPA Art in Lake Forest, Illinois

Gorton Community Center

There are four murals representing the elements Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, in the Auditorium of the Gorton Community Center (formerly the Edward F. Gorton School). These are the only murals produced in Lake Forest under the Federal Art Project. The artist, Ralf Henricksen, was born on June 22, 1907 in Chicago, the only son of Danish immigrant parents. Henricksen described the Gorton murals as his "most successful." He died in December 1975 in East Lansing, MI where he had taught for years as an art professor at Michigan State University - East Lansing.

The murals were painted over during the 1960s. Until 1996, the murals were believed to have been destroyed. They were recently rediscovered by two conservators and a restoration campaign initiated by the Gorton Community Center. Restoration is currently being carried out by the Chicago Conservation Center. The following photographs which show the progress of uncovering one of the murals are courtesy of Gail T. Hodges, Director, Gorton Community Center


Photographs courtesy of Gail T. Hodges, Director, Gorton Community Center

The following announcement was made by the CCC:

The Gorton Community Center is located at 400 East Illinois Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045. Visit their website at:

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© 2005 Nancy Lorance
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