Mural at St. George Pool Slated for Destruction

Beautiful though the mosaic mural above the St. George Hotel Pool (see detail above) may be, it is to be destroyed next week. The reason given is that it has a crack; as reader Benita Berman, who alerted us to this, points out, “so does the Sistine Chapel.”

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  • davoyager

    I remember that mosaic from the 1960’s when I visited that pool as a child.

    Anybody familiar with construction can tell you that it would be simple to stabilize and restore this historic mural. If they are gonna destroy it they have another reason, probably cost.
    Too bad.

  • guest

    I saw pieces of what must have been this mosaic outside the St. George Tower this morning in those red mini-dumpsters. I was wondering where they might have come from. So sad.

  • Neighborhood Observer

    It is incredible that we still destroy our architectural history with so little thought to its value. We put little pieces of a decorative treasure in the dumpster – so wasteful to not even recycle it. The powers that be at the St. George/ Eastern Athletic Club should be ashamed.

  • B. D.

    A crack? The only crack I see is in the PR and marketing departments. This is something they should be drawing attention to, not destroying.

  • AliG

    It’s a travesty that the St. George has been stripped bare. Is the St. George not landmarked? Would they need approval to do something like this?
    I hope these jackasses don’t get their hands on the Bossert.

  • John Wentling

    Hideous? Perhaps, but it’s history and should have been preserved. They didn’t even ask, they just went to work destroying it. Boycott Eastern Athletic Club!!

  • Bee Heights

    Folks…it’s ugly. I belong to EAC and I say do away with all the nasty green tiles that they HAVE to keep around. If you wanted to preserve the pool you should have started a long time ago before the club even existed.

  • Clark Street Resident

    Eastern Pathetic!

  • AliG

    Bee & 7444..when the Eiffel Tower was first erected people thought it was hideous, too. The point is that it’s a piece of St George & Brooklyn Heights history. They could have made and effort to carefully take it down, preserve it, give it to a Brooklyn Museum, put it elsewhere…whatever.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Bee, did you HAVE to be a member at EAC, too?

  • nabeguy

    NOOC, I was thinking the same thing. If you think the place is so ugly and nasty, why do you choose to burn your fat off there? Gyms are ubiquitous, but this kind of mosaic work is unique and the EAC management should have tried reaching out to the community before destroying it.

  • GHB

    Bee Heights, there’s nothing wrong with those green tiles. The color’s beautiful. At least they didn’t destroy EVERYTHING there. You wouldn’t by any chance be Judy Stanton of BHA, would you? When she deems something as “ugly”, it disappears. Must have been nice with an upstairs mezzanine bar looking down at the pool.

  • Homer Fink

    Note, EAC is a tenant. We don’t know who made this decision… yet.

  • melanie hope greenberg

    I was a member at EAC for a long while in the 80’s and 90’s and remember those tiles.
    Sad to see them in the garbage.

  • No One Of Consequence

    True, Homer, but from my experience, commercial space interiors are the responsibility of the tenant.

  • bornhere

    It’s really interesting: some of us recall the tiles from over the years at EAC, and others of us recall them from decades ago at the St George Pool; that kind of continuum helps make this sudden excision even more surprising. (And I think they ARE beautiful, although the fluorescent lighting at EAC didn’t “do a thing for them.”)

  • Eddy

    The pool was destroyed in the early 80’s when they covered 3/4 of it with a basketball court…. the pool was once the largest indoor saltwater pool… many of the water ballet films in the 30’s were shot there…. I swam in the pool as a child until is closed in the 70’s… alas it is gone forever its art deco history to remain only in memory and a few photos… Killed by the steroid-junky owners of the EAC and their indifference to anything aesthetic beyond their own bodies…

  • No One Of Consequence

    Eddy, you obviously are not familiar with the owners. One could hardly describe them as steroid-junkies.

  • LC

    Come on people, we’re talking about a mosaic inside a private athletic club, inside a private building. We really want to set the precedent that this should be landmarked? What’s next? If someone wants to renovate their 80 year old kitchen, should they not be allowed to because several generations of people are tied together by their memories of that kitchen?

    I’m all for landmark commissions in neighborhoods like ours. The exterior aesthetic is important when it is of historic significance. Interior landmarking, however, should be limited to something of great importance, beauty, or something iconic and famous in nature (the space under the 59th st. bridge for example), not a rather average mosaic which holds some nostalgic value for some but is viewed only by a few dozen people on a daily basis, and frankly, something I never noticed the few times I was in EAC’s pool area.

    This is the problem I have with some preservationists, they pick fights that make them look foolish and consequentially weakens their argument when they are fighting for something worth protecting. Some preservationists seem to believe that everything must always stay the same, reality and cost be damned.

  • John Wentling

    I think the bigger issue is one of NOTICE. We might not be so heartbroken and pissed off had EAC noticed the community that it intended to destroy the mosaic, someone or some entity might have stepped forward to remove and preserve it.

    A heads up and timeframe would have been appropriate and neighborly.

  • Bee Heights

    Yeah and I’ll give you a heads up when I go to upgrade my windows in case anyone wants to step up. Should I give you a heads up when I throw out my 30 year old stove too? Grow up people. Private property!

  • Eddy

    No One Of Consequence, it was meant in a joking way… besides, I did know one of the owners and some of the crew that hung around the EAC back in the late 80’s early 90’s and there definitely a lot of “juice” floating around that place….
    LC, I agree, Landmarks or the public has no business dictating the renovation of private interiors… however, that does not absolve the owners who chose to destroy landmark interiors from reproach…

    I feel the tragedy was in wrecking the pool in the first place, The mosaic is merely the Coup de grâce

  • John Wentling

    Your windows and stove hardly have the same historic significance. The NEIGHBORLY thing to do was to advise the community of their intent to destroy it, IF no one stepped forward to save it.

    I’m a staunch private property/civil/constitutional rights advocate and activist, which is why I didn’t mention historic preservation – rather, just asked for a little notice – not much to ask under the circumstances.

  • John Wentling

    PS: You may want to save the picture in this article for posterity’s sake – great pic of the mural in question.

  • my2cents

    Well said, LC. you are totally right on.

  • bornhere

    I’m not getting the “private property” argument here. At all. Those who salvage older things — windows, wrought iron, doors, invariably hidden hinges, faucets, etc — have legitimate businesses and sell their salvaged wares, many from “private properties,” to grateful clients. A friend of mine recently purchased a stove “in the style of” a 1950s range. Had she been able to find an actual stove from the era, she would have bought it. So when it comes to something that for SOME people is iconic, what’s the harm in caring? How does it do damage or give insult to anyone who doesn’t feel the value (not necessarily monetary) of something old and authentic and maybe even artistic? I’m already wondering what might become of the Bossert, you know, that privately owned hotel with the beautiful ceiling. I think one either feels the thread of then to now or doesn’t. If you don’t, that’s your choice; if you do, you do. What’s it to you? Really?

  • Neighborhood Observer

    Relative to the comment about windows…it is in fact “required” to secure Landmarks approval for window replacement, something which cost an extra $500 to file for approval when we replaced rear windows on one floor of our house just because they could be seen from the side street….something that could be accomplished only with considerable leaning and neck twisting. Other than that, I love the idea of landmark designation.

  • nabeguy

    LC, you make a compelling argument and I agree that allowing LPC control of interiors would be a excessive constraint on the owner of a private abode. EAC doesn’t exactly fall into that category, as it’s a commercial enterprise open to the public (like the old Penn Station). Yeah, it was just a lousy mosaic, but it was also a fairly good example of a heritage that is gradually ending up in dumpsters all over the city and cannot be duplicated. If you want to charge me $125 a month to come into your private space, I’d expect you to be more sensitive when you make the decision to destroy it. And if you were to do that, who knows? Maybe I’d make you an offer on that retro stove. These idiots actually passed up what could have been a lucrative deal, as there are salvage companies that would have paid a pretty penn for this mosaic.

  • benita berman

    Thanks to those who complimented my photograph. I just happened to be there this weekend and when the lifeguard saw my camera he told me to be sure to take a picture of the mural because it was coming down in a few days. That’s all the notice they gave. I agree that they should have notified the community – perhaps the Brooklyn Historical Society or the Brooklyn Heights Association to see if it could have been placed elsewhere. The Brooklyn Museum has an extensive collection of old Brooklyn history. Art is in the eye of the beholder so declaring it hideous is only a matter of taste, and there’s no accounting for taste. An Art Deco historian might very well have declared it a fine piece, either artistically or an an example of the art of that period. I’m an artist and art teacher and I feel strongly about preserving the past. My family owned 95 and 97 Clark Street ( where the Cadman Towers now sits) both fine examples of Greek Revival architecture and they were destroyed by the city to make way for “urban renewal”. This project led to landmarking. I believe Eastern Sports rents the space and are not the owners.

  • my2cents

    Given all these comments, I can see why they didn’t give any notice. There would have been a “save the mural” campaign. I think it is a shame they didn’t try and sell it as a salvage piece, honestly, but this tile work is really not a stand-out example of art deco design. and I very respectfully disagree with nabeguy- this type of tile work certainly can be replicated, since it is all regular squares. You could easily make a replica sans crack. I think because of the great crimes such as the demolition of whole square blocks like Benita points out, or like Old Penn Station, we have all become a little too clingy to any relic of the past, such as Armando’s Lobster sign or this mural, simply because it has ‘always been there.”