St. George Mural Destroyed, Dumped

To paraphrase Gil Scott Heron: The first thing we have to say is: landmark my a**.

It seems odd that in a neighborhood known for its fierce defense of architecture and craftsmanship that it was so easy for workers at the Hotel St. George to demolish the mural that adorned one of its walls for decades so quickly. Yet, here it is broken into pieces disposed of like common trash and destined for obscurity.

It’s been discussed here before, but is the next landmarking battle to be fought indoors? Can it be won?

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  • my2cents

    fierce defense of architecture? Ha! Fierce defense of the status quo is more like it. Today I was home from work and went to the bklyn historical society photo archive. I was amused to discover that in the spot where the Bossert now stands, there used to be another massive structure called Pierpont House, which was very grandiose, and rather unique looking. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself that had all these NIMBY preservationists been around back then, the Bossert – now a crown jewel of Montague – would never have been built. Preserving history is important, but so is making new history- so long as it is done respectfully and responsibily, and preferably with less regulation. We need to stop the great aesthetic crimes like the excesses of the Robert Moses era, but on a micro scale, it is not anyone’s place (nor the state’s) to tell a private homeowner what they can/can’t do to his property, and doubly so in the interior. What might be an affront today may just be worth saving tomorrow. And what was crass yesterday does not make it worth saving today just because it is old and has been there a while. That mural was ok, but it was hardly a handmade mosaic. All the tiles are regular squares. They could order a new one made up that would be just as nice from Bisazza, which would last another 100 years. (also, for the record I love the green tiles at Eastern Athletic)

  • nabeguy

    Save the Pierrepont House! Kidding aside, your point is taken. This isn’t exactly ancient Byzantium after all, and the mosaic in question was just a snapshot in history. But I worry that small losses like this and the attitudes that allow it may extend out in a wider arc. I don’t equate holding the preservation line to NIMBY-ism. It’s more about recognizing and honoring the skills and labor of the people that came before us to make the Heights and other neighborhoods so unique. BTW, you’re right, the tiles weren’t hand-made but they were certainly hand-set. Sweat labor at its finest.

  • my2cents

    nabeguy – good points. I had to wonder though…maybe not sweat labor at its finest…it did crack in less than 80 years after all. ;-)

  • 111 Resident

    Please note that the destruction of the mural was done by the Eastern Athletic Club, which has a lease on the actual space where the mural was located. As a resident of the coop thay leases to them, I have inquired in the past about previous acts of destruction in the space on EAC’s part, and was told that because of their lease, which was written in the 1980’s to last for forty years, they have control over the space and can do what they want as long as they do not violate Department of Building codes.

  • No One Of Consequence

    As I mentioned in the other thread, this is not unusual for a commercial space.
    I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that their lease is up in 2011/12?

  • benita berman

    The mural was most certainly handmade. Perhaps the tiles were not, but it took a human to make the decisions of color and form, which certainly made it a worthy piece of Art Deco art. It may not have been as old as the Byzantine style, but much of the art in churches at that time were made with uniform square tiles. The Art Deco period is a legitimate style of art and the mural was worthy of being saved if there had been a place for it to go. In South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, much has been done to save the Art Deco landmarks, both outside and inside, which makes South Beach a location of charm and character. Whether or not a few people like it is not the issue. The Heights is a unique neighborhood precisely because much time and effort was put into keeping it intact. The green tiles on the wall were part of the columns which surrounded the original pool. Perhaps, they will still be there.

  • benita berman

    Nabeguy – I posted a comment for you under “St. Geroge Architect: Trashed Mosaic Was Dangerous on St. George Mural Destroyed, Dumped.