Lawrence’s Daughter Makes Appeal To Public

To the Reader’s Forum:

I’m appealing to the people of Chautauqua County to join the effort underway to save the murals which are currently slated for demolition at the James Prendergast Library. As one of the daughters of David L. Lawrence, the murals’ creator, I do have a personal interest in seeing them preserved. However, I also have worked in libraries for 25 years and I view them as a repository of information that’s valued by a community. In these times, with online materials quickly replacing books and journals, libraries are placing ever-increasing value on items they own that are worth saving for future generations. Rare books usually spring to mind in this context, but why shouldn’t we also consider objects of visual art as representing a community’s heritage?

My father was never a famous painter and some may be unfamiliar with his work. But, during his lifetime, David L. Lawrence was known as a local artist who painted the landscapes and structures of the regions he lived in and visited. I was a young child when he painted the murals and regrettably I never asked him what guided his choices of subject material for them. But, as I look at these murals now, to me and possibly to others, they depict the great value that reading offers. They express how reading can open up new worlds and lead to satisfying opportunities in life. To me, these are timeless values that libraries can offer us. The James Prendergast Library has existed for many years as a reservoir of knowledge for Chautauqua County. Hopefully, it will continue to thrive as a vibrant and welcoming place where people can go to learn about the past and dream about the future. In that context, it makes sense that these murals belong there.

I urge you to contribute to the fund to save the murals. We only have until June 6 to raise funds to remove the mural in the library’s main area. No amount is too small, and there are several options for making a tax-deductible donation. You can donate through the library’s website at by clicking on the blue box on the right side of the homepage that reads “Mural Removal Fund,” and follow the directions on how to donate. Or you can mail or bring a donation directly to the library. The address is James Prendergast Library, 509 Cherry St., Jamestown, NY 14701. Please be sure to write “For Lawrence Mural Removal Fund” either in the message box on the second page of the website payment form or on your check memo line. We thank you for considering a donation.

Wendy Richards

Lexington, Va.