Media Alert – For Immediate Release
May 25, 2021
J. Ford’s Black Angus, Artist Becky Hochhalter Unveil Stiffy Green Mural Downtown
Terre Haute, Ind. – The legendary Stiffy Green will be coming to life in a new way, in the form of a downtown Terre Haute mural located at J. Ford’s Back Angus.
Award winning local artist Becky Hochhalter submitted the Stiffy Green design for the Arts Illiana and City of Terre Haute mini mural project in fall 2020. The design was selected in September 2020 to be produced on panels and installed downtown.
“Just having Stiffy Green back where he belongs, in his home, he’s been waiting a long time to be back here and I think it means a lot to people to see him back where he belongs,” said Hochhalter. “I tried to depict him instead of in a scary way, I tried to depict him as the faithful companion.”
The final design by Hochhalter was installed near the corner of Walnut and 7th Streets, on the J. Ford’s Black Angus building, which aptly named the restaurant’s bar the “Stiffy Green Bar” after relocating to the former Heinl’s Flower Shop Building on Walnut Street in 2016.
The legend of Stiffy Green alleges the English bulldog was the pet of John G. Heinl, who build Heinl’s Flower Shop, which is now home to J. Ford’s Black Angus. (read more below about the legend of Stiffy Green)
“When I saw the design of the mural that Becky had created, I knew there was no other place that it could go,” says J. Ford’s Black Angus co-owner Chef Jeff Ford. “Not only is there the connection to Stiffy, but this building is the connector between Stiffy and Heinl. It just felt right.”
Adds Hochhalter, “He is back in front of John Heinl’s mausoleum, the roses of course for Heinl’s Flower Shop and he is standing guard over John Heinl and he is the ever faithful companion, rather than the scary Stiffy Green.”
Not only did Ford and restaurant co-owner, wife Kelly Ford, champion the project, but also invested to increase the size of the mural. Original plans called for 8ftx8ft, which the Fords expanded to 12ftx12ft. Hochhalter also teased viewing the mural at night would also be special.
“Check it out at night,” she said with a smile. “You won’t be disappointed.”
The mural project is a welcome addition to downtown Terre Haute, combining both Terre Haute history and beautification of the downtown and arts corridor. Other mural projects have been proposed as part of revitalization projects through the See You in Terre Haute Community Plan.
Both Stiffy Green, John G. Heinl and the Heinl Building have a long and legendary history in Terre Haute.
An immigrant from Austria, John G. Heinl moved to Terre Haute in 1863 and started a floral business, specializing in Chrysanthemums. In 1901, Heinl completed construction on the Walnut Street building, which was built for his son Fredrick and his family to take over the business. The building has changed hands five time since Heinl and has always housed a florist, until 2016 when it was purchased by Jeff and Kelly Ford.
While John G. Heinl was known as a florist and businessman in Terre Haute, he might be most famous for his beloved dog – and the legends surrounding his death.
The first, and most interesting legend, is that Heinl’s English bulldog, Stiffy Green, followed him everywhere. Upon Heinl’s passing, Stiffy would spend all his time at the mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery, mourning his owner’s death. Eventually Stiffy died of a broken heart; the family had him stuffed, added green marble eyes and placed him in the mausoleum alongside his owner. Legend says that late night visitors of the cemetery would see the ghosts of Heinl and Stiffy walking together. Some even say they could hear Stiffy bark.
The second, and possibly the most accurate story is that the dog was a statue on the front porch of the home of Heinl and his wife Marie, the sister of Terre Haute native, Labor leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs. It is possible it was a wedding gift from Debs and his wife.
Stiffy was removed from the mausoleum in 1983 and now lives as an exhibit at the Terre Haute Historical Society.