BY SILAS WHITE
A mural depicting a landscape of trees by the water was found recently behind two walls on a property undergoing renovations.
The building, at 574 Columbus Ave., will be the new site of the restaurant Bella Luna, whose current location is a few doors down at 584 Columbus. According to Angie Noll, the restaurant’s manager, the site was formerly home to a flower shop, a bar and possibly even a Russian cultural center. By Noll’s guess, the mural is from the 1920s or 1930s.
“We think it’s at least 75 years old, but it’s not signed or dated,” she said.
Bella Luna has contacted a restoration artist that lives in the neighborhood to restore the mural, which is planned to be featured when the restaurant opens in September. Noll said that Bella Luna has also contacted the New York Historical Society to have the piece evaluated, but have yet to hear back.
The restoration artist, Mark Rutkoski, estimates that the painting comes from the early 20th century, and that this is not the first restoration that has been done.
“It’s suffered some damage but there seems to have been another restoration in around the ‘60s,” he said.
Noll believes that the mural may have come from the bar, but right now the exact dates and history of the building is unknown. According a document from the Landmarks Preservation Committee the building was built around 1893 or 1894 and designed by architect Jacob H. Valentine.
The restoration started last week.
“It’ll be a challenge but we’re looking forward to it,” Rutkoski said.
Noll said originally only one wall was going to be demolished, but the building’s owner, Turgut Balikci, wanted the second wall demolished as well because he thought he saw something. His hunch turned out to be correct, as the mural was hidden behind the second wall.
“Bella Luna is a neighborhood community spot, I think the mural is a cool part of the neighborhood community culture,” Noll said.