Decaying mural nets Bronck’s jeer

The mural, which depicts the arrival of borough namesake Jonas Bronck in Westchester County, was damaged in August by careless construction work at the courthouse. The mural is considered an important work by Bronx historians. It was painted by leading American muralist James Monroe Hewlett in the early 1930s in France, and was shipped to the Bronx for the courthouse opening in 1934.Photo by Viorel Florescu / 10.29.10

Florescu Viorel freelance NYDN

The mural, which depicts the arrival of borough namesake Jonas Bronck in Westchester County, was damaged in August by careless construction work at the courthouse.

An important piece of Bronx history is crumbling — and the city has done nothing to stop it, borough leaders charged.

An 81-year-old mural depicting borough namesake Jonas Bronck suffered major water damage during construction at the Bronx County Courthouse in 2010.

The one-of-a-kind work continues to decay, despite promises from the city to restore the priceless painting.

“I feel certain that if these murals were in City Hall, they would have been restored within months,” said Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan (above).

Williams, Budd

“I feel certain that if these murals were in City Hall, they would have been restored within months,” said Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan (above).

“I feel certain that if these murals were in City Hall, they would have been restored within months,” said Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan.

Staffers from the Borough President’s Office discovered the damage including bubbled-up paint and discolored streaks three years ago.

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The mural is considered an important work by Bronx historians. It was painted by leading American muralist James Monroe Hewlett in the early 1930s in France, and was shipped to the Bronx for the courthouse opening in 1934

Denis Slattery/New York Daily News

The mural is considered an important work by Bronx historians. It was painted by leading American muralist James Monroe Hewlett in the early 1930s in France, and was shipped to the Bronx for the courthouse opening in 1934

A spokesman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services told the Daily News at the time that a curatorial consultant had been called in to begin restoring the historic artwork.

But the mural, one of four that line the Veterans Memorial Hall below the courthouse rotunda, has been forgotten — and the water damage has grown worse.

The artwork, hidden from view for years until a row of court offices was removed in 1988, was crafted by American muralist James Monroe Hewlett in 1932.

The artwork, hidden from view for years until a row of court offices was removed in 1988.

Florescu Viorel freelance NYDN

The artwork, hidden from view for years until a row of court offices was removed in 1988.

In the piece, Jonas Bronck is depicted negotiating the purchase of his 500-acre farm, what is roughly known today as Mott Haven, from the Lenape Indians.

Hewlett was a leading designer of his time, working in many buildings throughout the five boroughs.

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The mural, one of four that line the Veterans Memorial Hall below the courthouse rotunda, has been forgotten — and the water damage has grown worse.

Florescu Viorel freelance NYDN

The mural, one of four that line the Veterans Memorial Hall below the courthouse rotunda, has been forgotten — and the water damage has grown worse.

On top of his major design works, which include the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, he was president of both the Architectural League of New York and the Society of Mural Painters.

The mural’s deterioration has angered those who work in the building and pass by it every day.

“Three years ago, [the city] made a commitment to my office and the people of the Bronx that this historic mural would be repaired, yet that work has not begun,” fumed Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

A spokesman for the city agency would not say why the repairs have been delayed, but he said that a bid for the job would go out in January. He would not say how much it would cost.

“A conservator’s assessment revealed that the mural needs a full restoration,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Ultan hopes that the city will soon make good on the promise to fix up the artwork.

“I would not like the city to give these murals the brushoff,” Ultan said.

dslattery@nydailynews.com


Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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