Arts & Entertainment

Sears Closes, ‘Legend of Watchung’ Mural Safely Removed, Donations Sought to Restore Painting

"Legend of Watchung" mural was on view inside the Sears store on U.S. Route 22 East in Watchung for decades. Credits: B. Nemcek

WATCHUNG, NJ - The Mural has been saved from demolition. The ‘Legend of Watchung’ mural has been safely removed from Sears after the store closed for good after more than 50 years on Route 22 earlier this week.

"The mural has been removed today and is being shipped to Philly for storage," said Watchung Planning Board Chair  Tracee Schaefer at the start of Tuesday's meeting where Seritage was given final site plan approval for the Sears property. "Thank you to Mr. McNamara and Seritage who made a generous donation."

For most of the year, the Historical Committee has been researching the feasibility of removing the mural of the Legend of Watchung and how to preserve and relocate it. During many visits to the mural with a variety of art experts, they learned that removing the painting would be a daunting and expensive task.A feasibility study by Materials Conservation, a company experienced in preservation, estimates the cost for removal, restoration, and preservation to be about $40,000. 

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There is still work to be done, and the exact home for the mural is still unknown. Donations are being accepted for its restoration and conservation and are tax deductible. 

Donations can be made by check to the Watchung Community Foundation, 15 Mountain Boulevard Watchung, NJ  07069 or the gofundme at The Watchung Community Foundation is Seeking Donations for Saving a Historic Painting.

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