Asbury Park’s “Tillie” and other Palace murals deteriorating; developer over two years in default of promise to safeguard
The Save Tillie Campaign, a group of Bruce Springsteen fans devoted to preservation in Asbury Park, a shore town made famous for its association with Springsteen’s music, called for Governor Corzine’s action last week regarding the apparent mistreatment of an icon of Asbury Park history and the group’s namesake: the Tillie mural. Painted on what was formerly a wall of the Palace Amusements, a National Register-listed landmark of Asbury Park’s boardwalk that was demolished in 2004, the Tillie mural was scheduled to be protected, despite the building’s demolition. In 2004, the State of New Jersey issued a permit for redevelopment to the City of Asbury Park and developer Asbury Partners, LLC which mandated that prior to demolition of Palace Amusements, the permittee identify and preserve artifacts from the building for eventual incorporation into the new development planned for the lots. The large, smiling face mural known as “Tillie” was one of these artifacts. The wall onto which the mural was painted was removed, along with other wall murals and various other artifacts, in 2004. All were placed in storage sheds close to the waterfront, awaiting the time at which they would be re-used in new construction. However, in August 2005, when the murals were inspected in their sheds by New York conservator Paul Himmelstein, he reported deficiencies in the storage sheds, including improper waterproofing and deteriorating materials. Himmelstein indicated that the murals were in danger of destruction as a result of various threats (including water and mold), and that proper storage would be required to alleviate these threats. While Asbury Partners, LLC subsequently agreed to repair the sheds, repairs have apparently not as yet been undertaken. Furthermore, a City Council resolution adopted in April 2006 required that the developer work with the City to relocate the murals to sheds of the design recommended by Paul Himmelstein by August 1, 2006. While the City did approve a new storage shed location, and Asbury Partners did apparently have materials for new sheds prefabricated, the sheds have not yet been built. While the City has allegedly pressured Asbury Partners, LLC repeatedly to complete the required relocation, presently Tillie and the other murals from the Palace currently remain in questionable storage.