Stoneham residents and bank customers got their first look at the historic mural “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” 55 years ago. The mural, painted by Richard Gibney, made headlines when it was unveiled on May 27, 1968 at the Middlesex County National Bank branch on Main Street.
The unveiling ceremony included several officials, including then-President of the Stoneham Historical Society and Museum Helen Kinsley. Kinsley is pictured standing in front of the mural alongside Middlesex County Bank officials and Stoneham town officials.
“Gibney was very detailed and it’s very likely he consulted with Mrs. Kinsley on Stoneham’s history,” Stoneham Historical Society and Museum Treasurer Bee Russo said. “It’s really wonderful to have a direct link to this important piece of Stoneham’s history.”
Below is the text from “The Stoneham Independent” article about the mural unveiling originally published on May 30, 1968.
Mural of Stoneham Unveiled At Middlesex County Bank
Stoneham, Yesterday and Today, a mural painted by the well known artist, Richard M. Gibney, was unveiled at the Stoneham Office of the Middlesex County National Bank on Monday, May 27.
Assisting President Joseph P. Healey in the ceremonies were Mrs. H. Stanley Kinsley, President of the Stoneham Historical Society; Mrs. Alice Fitzbiggon DelRossi, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Town of Stoneham, Robert M. Edgar, Senior Vice President of the Bank and William J. Clarke, Mgr of the Stoneham Office.
The Mural, 45 feet long, 6 feet 1 inch high, in full color, covers one complete wall of the Bank and its four panels reflect events in Stoeham’s historical past.
The first scene in the Mural depicts the home shoemaker, the beginning of shoe manufacturing, which eventually grew into the main industry identified with Stoneham until the 1920’s.
Also shown is a stagecoach making a stop in Stoneham, as it traveled the Andover-Medford Turnpike, the principal road from New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts to Boston which opened in 1806.
The evolution of travel and industry is depicted by the railroad arriving with the opening of Stoneham Branch Railroad in 1863.
Also illustrated, but not too well known, is the story of sporting days on Spot Pond’s “Great Island” where in the 1860’s bare-knuckled prize-fighters engaged in matches, one said to have taken all day and consisted of 160 rounds.
The last panel highlights the growth of Stoneham and its continuing progress as a result of significant contributions to space technology by local and nearby industries. The New England Memorial Hospital founded in 1903 also occupies a section of this panel.
A folder available at the Bank contains unusual facts including the story of the chance discovery of the rubber vulcanizing process and information regarding Haywarville.