Historic Preservation: Last Bicentennial Mural May Be Saved As A 'Historic Property'

Thursday, August 30, 2018 8:00 am
September 2018 - Volume 46 Number 9

The Army Corps of Engineers was forced to delay destroying one of the last murals commemorating the country’s Bicentennial because it probably did not satisfy its duty to “stop, look and listen” under the National Historic Preservation Act.

Facts: In 1976, numerous works of public art were created to memorialize the United States’ bicentennial. One such work is the “Bicentennial Freedom Mural” painted on the spillway of the Prado Dam in Corona, California. The mural was designed and painted by high school students, and it is one of the last remaining public works associated with the Bicentennial. It is also one of the largest patriotic murals in the country and has received numerous honors over the decades. Unfortunately, the mural is also deteriorating. It is fading and chipping, which is particularly concerning because the mural contains lead paint.

The spillway on which the mural is painted is part of a federal flood-risk-management project, which puts the property within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). In 2014, the Corps determined that, to protect the environment from lead contamination, the mural’s lead paint should either be encaps[..]