Back in 1987, as part of his CityKids Foundation program, Keith Haring collaborated with kids from the Brandywine Workshop to produce a mural on the western facade of 2147 Ellsworth St., in Point Breeze. According to the Keith Haring website, a garden was subsequently planted at the corner lot next door, to preserve sight lines for the mural, “We the Youth.” And so it has remained, a vibrant and striking example of pop art, for the past twenty-five years.
Last week, we noticed that 2147 Ellsworth St. was under construction, ostensibly being rehabbed. We don’t know the building’s condition at the time the mural was originally created, we can can see from a property listing from a few years ago that despite being occupied as recently as four years ago, the home was in shell condition. It was purchased for $85K by Debra Butler, who subsequently attempted to sell it (apparently unsuccessfully) last year for $90K. We understand it was, in fact, sold in recent months, to the developer doing the rehab.
Yesterday, a reader gave us the heads up that the crew at the property is stuccoing over some sections of the mural.
We spoke to the workers at the site, but no one could provide us with any insight into what’s going on. Hopefully, the mural won’t be further damaged as the rehab continues.
And furthermore, the mural looks all jacked up now. Will the developer restore the partially stuccoed mural once construction is complete? Fingers crossed.
Update: We’ve learned that the developer has agreed to work with the mural arts program to restore the sections of the mural that have been stuccoed over, once the rehab work is finished. L&I had cited the property because the front wall was in imminent danger of collapse and the developer moved to save the front wall as quickly as possible after closing on the property.
He didn’t know about the mural’s cultural or historical significance until recently, but was actively trying to save the party wall and preserve the mural as much as possible because he thought it looked beautiful.
We’re heartened to hear that the developer will make things right in the end. And alarmed to learn that the building was apparently ready to fall over, if left unattended.