Save The Murals

Area residents now have the chance to preserve local cultural history.

A fund has been established to collect tax-deductible donations to save the artwork painted in the 1960s by the late David L. Lawrence at the James Prendergast Library. People can visit www.prendergastlibrary.org, look to the right side of the screen and click on “mural removal fund.” Those interested in contributing to the fundraising effort can make a donation either in person, through PayPal, or by check. Indicate on your payment form that you want the funds to go toward the mural removal fund. The library is located at 509 Cherry St., Jamestown, NY 14701.

“The library will be the collection point for donations toward saving the mural in the main building,” said Charlie Lawrence, David’s son.

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 side wall 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.

“We are working on figuring out the exact amount we need, but it is in the neighborhood of around $8,000,” Lawrence said.

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.

Lawrence said so far they have received $2,000 from an anonymous donor. He said his family is also working on collecting money amongst themselves to donate toward the mural removal fund.

“My family is working on identifying an amount to bring to the table, but we could use the support of the people of the Chautauqua Region,” he said.

In the summer of 2012, Prendergast Library prepared a successful application through the Public Library Construction Grant program of the New York State Library for funding to install five handicapped accessible/family restrooms, convert a freight lift to a passenger elevator and renovate upstairs storage space for future programming. The library sought to achieve an immediate, practical result from new restrooms and gain 1,803 accessible square feet of space for future programming from work on the elevator and storage area.

The Prendergast Library Board of Trustees voted at their April 2014 meeting to assist descendants of Lawrence in their fundraising efforts to pay for the removal of the two murals in the library.