Preservationists familiar with the building recognized it right away as the original home of the historic Julien Binford murals located at 101 West 14th Street. The murals at the 14th street location appeared to still be intact. The building, a recently shuttered HSBC bank branch, was built in 1952, designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer. The website nysonglines states that the Binford murals at that location were painted in 1954, and can be seen from the street. What will become of the Binford murals, when new tenants occupy the space, is unknown. However we did learn that Council Member Corey Johnson’s office is looking to preserve the mural, now owned by Google, and securing a permanent home.
Below, read the history of the murals, and the great ‘save’ thanks to the efforts of Speaker Corey Johnson and Save Chelsea.
Julien Binford (1909-1997) was an American Painter, known for his paintings and murals of rural settings in Virginia, where he lived. In May of 1941, LIFE Magazine featured a four-page article on an art show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts entitled The Eighth Exhibition of the Work of Virginia Artists in which Binford was one of 85 participating artists, whose average age was under 30.
Binford’s painting entitled “The Crap Shoot” was one of the paintings in The Eighth Exhibition that ran from April 12 to May 25, 1941. The Crap Shooter, (image below) originated when Artist Julien Binford was shooting rabbits near his home in Fine Creek Mills, Virginia. Pointing toward think bushes, his dog suddenly “flushed a corey of crapshooters who were evading the law. Their riches were spread on a blue linoleum mat.” Binford joined the crap game – lost, then decided to commemorate the disaster with this painting. His first one-man show was to be at a New York Midtown Gallery that following October.
Locating all of the murals painted by Binford has not been easy. In addition to his commissioned mural in the lobby of the Virginia State Library, and mural for Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond, Virginia, it appears he painted at least two murals for two separate Greenwich Savings Bank buildings in New York City ~ seven panels in the banking room of the bank located at 3 West 57th Street, and 14th Street at Sixth Avenue.
The 14th Street Binford murals on this page can be found on Pinterest.
The mural on 14th Street is aptly named, “A Memory of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue, ” capturing street life in the late 1890s.
What 101 West 14th Street looks like today (below)
While much attention was being paid to the mural, the street artist, Banksy paid a visit to 101 West 14th Street – announcing his presence on his Instagram account. Below are a few images, quickly taken, before the clock was removed.
Banksy’s latest addition ~ a rat painted on the clock atop the entrance to the former bank building. But less than a week later, the building owners removed Banksy’s clock. It will be placed in storage ~ future as yet undetermined.
Good News for the Binford Murals
Below are updated photos taken on December 15, 2017. On December 13, we learned that Corey Johnson’s office, the community group Save Chelsea, Jamestown (an investment and management company), and Julien Binford’s family set out to preserve the 1954 mural. The result is that Gemini Rosemont, the building site’s developer, has successfully removed the murals, now owned by Google, from the walls and safely placed them in storage. However, an update in 2019 indicates an urgency to find the mural a home, since Google must clear the basement at Chelsea Market, and the mural must be removed.
In April, 2019, Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC) passed a resolution to be an official sponsor to save the Binford mural, with a plea for donations for its restoration. $10,000 is needed for this project.
Google will be making a digital image of the 110-foot mural, and Hudson Guild has expressed an interest in displaying it in their on-line art gallery in the near future.