Arts & Entertainment

Fundraising Site Launched to Save the Sears 'Legend of Watchung' Mural

The Sears on Route 22 at Terrill Road is among the stores that the struggling retailer will soon close. Credits: Sean Conklin

WATCHUNG, NJ - A GoFundMe site has been established and is now accepting donations to save the 'Legend of Watchung' mural at the Sears store on Route 22. The page was established to save the mural and benefits the Watchung Community Foundation. Sears is slated to close on Sept. 17. (To read our story on Sears' final days, click here.)

"We have received the quote to have the Legend of Watchung Mural removed from Sears, cleaned and renovated. The price tag is steep -- please encourage everyone  to donate to the 'Save the Mural Go Fund Me" Seritage, the company who is developing the property has donated $5000 to the cause, but we need a lot more!" -- Diddy Addario, Chair Watchung Historical Committee

The GoFundMe site reads

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The Sears store in Watchung will close at the end of September, 2017. This store has been visited by millions of local residents over the past 70 years and will be completely demolished. Many share one common memory of the Sears store, and that is shopping with their parents and gazing at the amazing mural that overlooks the large staircase in the center of the store. The Sears store opened in 1965 so it was painted about that time.

The mural is stunning and shows the Dutch Captain Michaleson, Chief One Feather and Princess Wetumpka, the key players in the Legend. The detail in the painting is remarkably preserved. The artist was Garfield Hunter Jones (1925-1994) and known for his oil murals. It is a very large 16’ X 10’ oil painting on a thin canvas glued to the wall.

For most of the year, the Historical Committee has been researching the feasibility of removing our beloved mural of the Legend of Watchung and how to preserve and relocate it. During our many visits to the mural with a variety of art experts, we learned that removing the painting will be a daunting and expensive task. We thought we had a time-table of at least a year or two, but now with demolition in the next month, we are really scrambling to try and save the mural.

Not only is the mural a beautiful piece of art, it is an important part of the history of Watchung and is “so Watchung”! A feasibility study by Materials Conservation, a company very experienced in preservation, estimates the cost for removal, restoration, and preservation to be about $40,000. Your donation is tax deductible. We are exploring every avenue to save the mural – please help!

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