Union Terminal murals in danger of losing their history at CVG

One of the murals at baggage claim at CVG (Photo: FOX19)
One of the murals at baggage claim at CVG (Photo: FOX19)
(Photo: FOX19)
(Photo: FOX19)

It wasn't long ago when 20 by 20 foot murals looked on as travelers made their way to and from the Queen City. It's a job they've been pretty good at since the 1930s.

HEBRON, KY (FOX19) - The murals traveled to CVG airport in 1973 from their home, the train concourse at Union Terminal. Due to a demolition plan, the city rallied to save 14 of 15 murals and they did, according to Paul Muller, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

"We could only move one at a time. I love the picture of one in route where it has a banner on it that says we need $100,000 in gifts to move the rest of them," Muller said as he looks through old newspaper clippings from 1973.

"They really are remarkable for their beauty," said Scott Gampfer, Director of History Collections at Union Terminal.

Gampfer says some of the glass tile silhouette mosaic murals that decorated the former concourse still remain at Union Terminal. Two of them flank the entrance to the Cincinnati Historic Society Library. Two more rest in the museum.

"This is one of two murals depicting Rookwood pottery, a business here in Cincinnati," said Gampfer.

Each of the murals depict a Cincinnati industry. The artist Winold Reiss traveled to several places in Cincinnati and took pictures of workers that he found inspiring. Gampfer says the purpose of the murals wasn't to depict Cincinnati's history but to showcase the spirit of the city's workers.

"That artwork, even though it has been removed from the building is still very important to Cincinnati. It is a part of the history of union terminal. Its part of the history of Cincinnati," said Gampfer.

But now, the murals are in danger once again.

"The city of Cincinnati received notification from the airport that those terminals were on a plan for demolition," said Muller.

CVG's latest plan has demolition set for 2015 but a spokesperson says nothing has been finalized.

Just as they were saved in 1973, Muller says they are working to save the murals again. It could cost an estimated $2 million to move them a second time due to the weight and size of the murals. So far only an estimated $24,000 has been raised.

Muller says in 2013, Mayor Mallory created a commission to examine the issue, find a location and raise the money to move the murals. Mayor Cranley has said he supports the move as well and is committed to assisting the commission in finding a new home for the artwork.

"The idea is to find a site where they could be displayed together and where they are accessible to the public," said Muller. "These are things that are really iatrical to the identity and character of Cincinnati."

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.