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Ispirato da Torre di Civita: Paintings by Marajen Stevick Chinigo is a new exhibit at the Champaign County History Museum. 

Marajen was a skilled hobbyist painter for the majority of her life.  She drew inspiration for her paintings from her beloved Italian villa, the Torre de Civita or Tower of Civilization. 


We have taken the exhibit name from that inspiration, using the Italian, for Inspired by Torre de Civita.

Mrs. Chinigo and her fifth husband, Michael Chinigo, bought a partially restored 12th century Italian monastery.  The Chinigo’s continued restoration and it became their beloved Italian home that Marajen continued to make one of her homes after Michael’s death until her own death.

Marajen Stevick Chinigo was the last of Champaign’s influential Stevick publishing family.  Her father, David William Stevick, purchased the Champaign News in 1915.  Then, in 1919, he bought the rival Gazette and merged the two papers into The News-Gazette.  This grew into the local media conglomerate that also included radio stations WDWS-AM and WHMS-FM.  For some years, it also had a partial ownership interest in local television station WCIA.


David Stevick was adamant that the paper remain a family-owned and operated business.  David’s wife, Mary Helen, was the corporate Vice President, and Marajen, the Secretary-Treasurer when David died in 1935 at age 48.

Helen and Marajen ran the company until Mrs. Stevick died in 1967.  Stevick had instilled into Marajen his desire that the company remain family-owned and operated.  She resisted offers to sell the company, retaining operations until her own death in 2002.

This exhibit features eleven of Mrs. Chinigo’s paintings inspired by life at the villa.