The lobby of the former HSBC bank building

A mural depicting New York City in the 1800s may soon be lost to time. The 1954 canvas painting by Julien Binford, entitled “A Memory of 14th Street and 6th Avenue,” is a 110-foot-long piece that is currently housed in the lobby of a now closed, one-story bank building, which stands at the intersection of Chelsea, the West Village and the Meatpacking District. The site is slated to become condominiums and retail space at the hand of developer Gemini Rosemont, which purchased the property for $42.4 million earlier this year. The New York Times reports that the interior has already been stripped. 

Andrew Cronson, a junior from New York University, spotted the mural back in October and contacted several local preservationist groups once he saw demolition permits posted on the building. Save Chelsea responded to the call, and now, alongside City Councilman Corey Johnson, it’s urging the developer to preserve the mural or turn it over to someone who will. While Gemini Rosemont is open to doing so, the company has not committed to the cause. In the meantime, it has been considering the options and contacting galleries to determine their interest in acquiring the piece, and its actual value. So far, there have been no bites.

However, real estate company, Jamestown, which owns the Chelsea Market, has shown interest in taking the mural. Google has also stated that it would like to help protect the painting, The Times reports. Because the bank building is still in the design phase, no date has been set for the demolition.

The mural, which is painted on canvas, depicts what 14th Street and 6th Avenue might have look during the late 1800s: women are depicted carrying parasols; there are horse-drawn carriages and commuters are seen running to an elevated train. Before it was gutted, the building (101 W. 14th St.), designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer and constructed in 1953, formerly housed a HSBC branch. Binford, however, painted the mural for what was then known as the Greenwich Savings Bank.

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