GoFundMe started to restore historic mural
FAIRFIELD — A 1948 mural that could have been lost to neglect and abandonment is getting a facelift in preparation for an expected summer unveiling. And with help from donors, it just may meet that goal.
An online fundraiser was started April 9 to fund the restoration of “Old Black Rock Harbor, 1810” — a large 8-by-20-foot mural — painted by Westport muralist Robert Lambdin that depicts harbor life in the nearby city of Bridgeport in the 1800s.
The mural once hung in the Black Rock Bank, situated along Fairfield Avenue and Brewster Street, a building that had been abandoned for years. The artwork was donated to the Fairfield Museum after renovations began at the Bridgeport building in 2017.
If all goes smoothly, the mural will be displayed at the museum’s “Creating Community” exhibition and unveiled June 1 this year as part of Black Rock’s 375th anniversary, according to the GoFundMe page.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were a total of 42 donations ranging from $10 to $500.
The total amount raised has reached nearly $3,700, just shy of the halfway mark of the $7,500 goal.
“I think we’re on track. We need to raise the last thousand dollars and pay for it to get back here,” said Michael Jehle, executive director of the Fairfield Museum and History Center.
According to Jehle, the total expected cost of the mural’s restoration is $40,000. The museum has received a $10,000 grant from Bank of America and private donations, getting the museum three-fourths of the way to the expected cost amount.
Currently, the mural is at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Massachusetts, a nonprofit institution dedicated to the conservation and preservation of artwork.
Donors lauded the restoration efforts; some brought up fond memories about their time in the region.
“I remember this mural well from banking at the site during my years in Black Rock,” Orin Grossman commented on the fundraising page. “It is a part of American history that should be preserved that the Historical Society has taken this task on.”
According to the Bridgeport History Center, the first settlers of Black Rock came from Concord, Mass., in 1644. One of those settlers, Thomas Wheeler, built his house directly on Black Rock Harbor.
“This beautiful and forgotten mural is an important part of Black Rock maritime history,” Nancy Hatfield commented. “Please donate towards its restoration!”
Jehle emphasized this opportunity was a way for people in the community to keep their history alive.
“These kinds of community-funded and supported efforts help us preserve our artistic legacy and help future generations understand the art and history in this area,” he said.