Topic: Quincy, MA - Restoration, but loss
From: Oxford, OH
Registered: May 2003
posted July 04, 2004 10:00 AM
From the Patriot Ledger (26 June 2004):
NO HAPPY ENDING: As the old movie house is renovated, its concrete ‘mural' must be removed and is in danger of crumbling into dust
Artist Annie Greenman of Hull is trying to save the 1918 painted scene in the archway above the front door at the former Apollo Theatre in Hull. (LISA BUL/The Patriot Ledger)
By L.E. CAMPENELLA
The Patriot Ledger
HULL - The 86-year-old mural in the archway of Hull's defunct Apollo Theatre will no longer beckon customers to view the latest movies and newsreels.
The theater, which opened in 1918 and closed in 1956, is being renovated and its mural, with frolicking cherubs above a banner saying ‘‘latest reviews of peace and war from all over the world'' may not survive.
Owner Dennis Anastos is reconstructing the corner building into two townhouses and office space.
The renovations will reflect the old Apollo, but for many the loss of the grand old theater and its signature mural means it will never be the same.
‘‘It's a shame, it was such a wonderful place,'' said Bill Geyer, the son-in-law of Eva Leonard, the theater's pianist during the silent movie era.
After more than a year of planning, Anastos said, he tried ways of saving the mural in one piece, but he said that because the costs are enormous, he will try to save it by cutting it into sections. ‘‘I've done what I can,'' Anastos said with an exasperated sigh.
Artist Annie Greenman of Hull recently learned that the mural is to be cut and was hoping to begin a fund drive to raise the money to remove it intact.
‘‘If we can send a man to the moon, we can save the mural,'' Greenman says.
Greenman said the mural is a beloved piece to residents and has been a hallmark sight as drivers enter Hull on George Washington Boulevard in Hingham.
Greenman said that if it can be saved, it can be restored and rebuilt into a town building.
However, it's not that easy.
The mural, - technically not a mural because it's hand-painted on concrete - is embedded in the main entrance to the run-down theater.
It is 12 feet wide and weighs an estimated 3,000 pounds or more. The concrete is about a half-inch thick and in some spots holes can be seen where it has deteriorated.
To remove it in one piece would require a crane to pull the mural through the roof.
The entire entryway would have to go with it and be rebuilt, as would the roof, and a cradle would likely be needed to haul the mural out, Anastos said.
Electrical lines leading to the building would have to be removed while work is being done.
Conservative estimates put the cost at $30,000 to $50,000, but Anastos says it would be a lot more. ‘‘And that's if it survived the whole thing,'' Anastos said. ‘‘It could get banged around and crumble anyway.''
Don Ritz, chairman of the town design review board, said that initially the board was interested in saving the mural, but that when he saw the problems and costs of moving the piece, the board decided replicating the entryway would suffice.
‘‘It was an important landmark and we thought it was worth respecting, if not saving,'' Ritz said, ‘‘but it wasn't painted by Picasso and you have to ask what is historically worth saving.''
Geyer, 74, the son-in-law of the theater pianist, said he is unhappy to see the mural go, and, like many others, hoped Anastos would be opening another movie theater.
‘‘That theater has so many memories,'' he said.
Geyer said Eva Leonard played the essential background music for movies before the talkies.
Anastos said putting in a new theater would not be cost-effective. He said more than half of the theater collapsed in the 1980s and has been replaced by the Mezzo Mare restaurant, a coin laundry and a parking lot.
He is spending more than $500,000 for 4,200 square feet of renovations.
To build a theater that seats the 600 people the Apollo once held, Anastos said, would cost a fortune.
Anastos plans to begin renovations this coming week and said cutting the mural will be one of the first steps.
He and Greenman hope to enlist the aid of an expert who can show him how the concrete can be cut without falling apart.
Selectmen Chairman John Reilly said anyone with the expertise to help cut the mural should contact him through the town clerk's office. ‘‘That theater and the mural is such a hallmark to the town, we hope we can restore it,'' Reilly said.
L.E. Campenella may be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright 2004 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Saturday, June 26, 2004
[ July 05, 2004, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: Adam Martin ]
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(Jim passed away in December 2006)
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003
posted July 05, 2004 09:14 AM
There is a way to preserve this mural for less than $30,000, though not as a surface on concrete. I hope someone here knows how to contact the owner, since the newspaper mentioned does have a web site found through a Google search, but no means to search it for this back issue story, where one might have found a link to the owner or others mentioned there. If anyone can relay this message to them, they might save the mural.
What they must do is to contact a commercial photographer who is able to take a panoramic photo in large format, and that can then be converted to either a transparency or print in very large format, which some specialty photo enlargers will do for a stiff fee. This can be made flexible and mounted on any similarly large surface, and if done in an archival way, it should last almost as long as the original mural lasted. Nearby Boston should have several such professional photographers and specialty photo printers to work with.
It is pointless to try to preserve the concrete; even in pieces it will look more like a mosaic than a mural when put back together, assuming it survives any attempted removal. Best Wishes.
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