The Legend of Watchung Mural in Sears store. Image via Echoes~Sentinel
Inside a Sears store on Route 22 in Watchung, New Jersey, a 16 foot by 10 foot mural depicting “The Legend of Watchung” was painted in 1965. The mural depicts member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe living peacefully with Dutch settlers in a location that would later be known as Watchung. The historic mural is now in danger of being destroyed, since the Sears store that houses the mural is due to be demolished on October 1st.
“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.”
The Watchung Historical Committee would like to move and preserve the mural. Cost? $40,000. A GoFundMe site has been created toward this effort. People may also donate directly to the Watchung Community Foundation.
Update March 2018 via mycentraljersey.com ~ The iconic mural on the stairwell in Sears, depicting a key moment in Watchung’s history, has been saved, but it is still looking for a home. Borough Hall is being eyed as a possible destination.
Saving historic murals isn’t easy. Finding a permanent home for them can be equally difficult. Here is another treasure searching for a home ~ the historic Julien Binford Murals in the Chelsea district, NYC.