STONEHAM –Treasurer Bee Russo and members of the Stoneham Historical Society and Museum (SHSM) are pleased to share that they have raised $123,312 of the $150,000 fundraising goal to preserve the historic “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” mural by Artist and United States Marine Corps Veteran Richard M. Gibney.
In 1968 Gibney was commissioned by the then Middlesex County National Bank to paint “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” to be displayed at the Main Street building.
The vignettes within the mural depicted a cordwainer in his “10 footer” shoe shop; a stagecoach on the turnpike, now Main Street, with the First Congregational Church on the village green; the railroad station with a Union soldier; a bare-knuckle boxing match on Great Island in Spot Pond; the grounds of the former New England Memorial Hospital; and surveyors and the building of I-93.
Gibney, a native of Saratoga, New York, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and was assigned to the First Battalion, 18th Marines, Second Marine Division. He trained as a demolition engineer and participated in the USMC Combat Artist Program.
Throughout his service, Gibney saw and painted combat during many battles in the South Pacific. He took part in multiple landings, including at Tarawa and Saipan, and was a survivor of the Westlock Tragedy during which the ship he was on sustained severe damage during an explosion. Gibney was sketching at the time and avoided serious injury.
Today, well over 100 of his original works are cataloged in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. Gibney is also featured in the 2000 PBS documentary They Drew Fire, which highlighted combat artists in World War II.
The SHSM has also sponsored a flag in Gibney’s honor as a part of Stoneham’s Field of Honor, available for public viewing through Sunday, Nov. 12.
Saving the Stoneham Mural
Under the ARTchiving Stoneham initiative, the SHSM aims to preserve and conserve historically and culturally significant pieces of artwork in the Stoneham community.
The SHSM secured ownership of the “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” mural ahead of the sale of the Main Street Bank of America branch. The mural was professionally removed from the walls of the bank in January 2022 by Gianfranco Pocobene, Chief Conservator of the Isabella Gardner Museum, and is currently being cleaned and restored by Pocobene Studio.
The expectation is for the mural’s three panels, totaling 45 feet, to be displayed in the newly renovated Stoneham Historical Society and Museum, located at 36 William St. in early 2024.
To date, the SHSM has raised $123,312 of its $150,000 fundraising goal to preserve the historic mural through grants and generous private donations. Donations range from $10 to $10,000. To donate, click here.