Lawrence Family Setting Up Library Mural Fundraising Plan

The family of David L. Lawrence is working to establish a fundraising mechanism with local organizations to save the murals hanging at the James Prendergast Library.

Charlie Lawrence, David’s son, said he will be visiting the Jamestown area this weekend and again on Wednesday to meet with local officials to establish a fundraising account where people can donate money. He has had initial contact with library officials, who have stated they will assist in fundraising efforts.

”We want to know where they are focusing their efforts so we can work together. We want to be on the same page with the library. We’re trying to get a unified effort between all organizations and individuals to raise money so we are not working cross purposes,” he said. ”I want to reach out to Mr. (Randall) Sweeney (Community Foundation executive director) to talk to him. Also, I want to talk to the Fenton History Center, they could be a source for ideas. They have expertise, and we want to engage them if we can.”

Lawrence said the focus right now is to raise enough money to save one of two murals hanging in the library painted by his father. One mural is located at the front of the library, along a sidewall to the right of the entrance area if you are walking into the library. The other mural is located to the left in the children’s room. The first phase of the renovation project puts one mural in danger. The second phase of the project in the children’s room is not scheduled to be done this year, which will allow for more time to raise money to save the second mural. Each mural is estimated to cost between $8,000 to $10,000 to remove.

Lawrence said he knows those involved in the fundraising process will have to move quickly. The deadline to raise the money seems to be by the end of May. That is because the preservationist – who can save the art work – from the Intermuseum Conservation Association of Cleveland, Ohio, has another project starting in June. So they will need three to four days to remove the mural before starting their other project. Also, renovations at the library are expected to start in the middle of June.

”We recognize we have to move pretty quickly to come up with a solution to come up with $8,000 to $10,000 to remove the mural,” Lawrence said. ”It is not a tremendous amount of money to raise, but it is a short time frame. That makes it seem much greater.”

Last November, renovation plans for the library were announced during a public meeting. The first phase of the proposed renovations will focus on making the library compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes upgrading a freight elevator to a passenger one and installing five restrooms to improve family use and accessibility. It also includes the creation of a new teen space. The second phase of the project includes renovations to the children’s room entrance, improvements to the first-floor circulation and the creation of a new stair-and-balcony connector for the second-floor space created by the first phase.

Lawrence said hopefully by the start of May an account will be established where people can make tax-deductible donations.

”We would love the residents and organizations of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties to rally for this purpose. They are the ones benefiting,” Lawrence said. ”I would like to see a group effort to bring together elements from the library, the family and all interested in seeing these cultural assets preserved. The idea is we want to do it right, with all efforts working together for the best possible outcome.”