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The Mural is Here

Stoneham Historical Society Board and Mural Committee in front of Gibney mural

Members of the public were able to see the mural for the first time in May as it was unveiled at a special extended Open House.

The vignettes depicted are 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 ground of the former New England Memorial Hospital; and surveyors and the construction of I-93.

The Mural fits perfectly on the West and South walls of the main Museum Hall.

The next opportunities to see the mural are the July and August Open Houses, July 21 and August 18, 2024 from 2-4 pm.

Corrine Long from Pocobene Studio cleaning one of the 6' panels with tiny sponges and cotton swabs and special solvents.

Heritage Award

The following is excerpted from the 2024 Heritage Award Ceremony from the Stoneham Historical Commission

In 2021, Bank of America closed their bank branch on Main Street.  There were immediate worries about what could happen to the mural inside if the building were bought and torn down, which seemed quite likely.  The mural Stoneham: Yesterday and Today, depicts scenes from Stoneham History.  It was painted in 1968 in the then Middlesex County Bank by Richard Gibney, a Rockport artist who was also a Marine Corp combat artist in World War II. 

Very shortly afterward Marcia Wengen, Secretary of the Stoneham Historical Commission and Bee Russo, Treasurer of the Historical Society, along Angela Binda from the Stoneham Library, joined forces to see what might be done to get an estimate on what it might cost to remove it – if that could even be done – and restore it.   

One of the most serendipitous contacts was with the Gianfranco Pocobene Studio in Malden.  Conservator Corinne Long came out to do some tests on the material, and a great relationship was born.  We were incredibly lucky as Gianfranco among his other experience, has been Chief Conservator for the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum for over 20 years. 

The cost estimate for removing it, storing it, and doing conservation work on a 6 x 45″ mural seemed dauntingly high. A lot of money would need to be raised and they had to find a place to put it where the public could still enjoy it.  — The mural is 6 feet high and 45 feet long, which severely limits the options.  

2022 saw the Bank deed the mural to the Stoneham Historical Society & Museum.  It was removed from the bank (very carefully!) and placed in climate-controlled storage – using money from an anonymous donation.  In the ensuing time, this group, including new SHS board member Barbara McLaughlin, raised almost $150K in donations to have the mural restored and to do work in the Historical Society Museum to prepare to place it there – which was extensive.   Just this past week, the public has been able to see the mural in its new home there for the first time and it really looks spectacular.   Other board and commission members have been involved along the way obviously but this group has been the driving force.  

Therefore the Stoneham Historical Commission is proud to award the 2024 Heritage Award to Marcia Wengen, Bee Russo, Angela Binda and Barbara McLaughlin for saving this piece of public art and ensuring that Stoneham Yesterday and Today has a tomorrow.