HOUSTON - A historic Third Ward community center damaged during Hurricane Harvey is pleading with the public for financial support to repair its building and restore a treasured work of art.
"Dr. John T. Biggers painted this beautiful mural in 1953 he did it to honor and as a tribute to a deceased wife of one of our local ministers. We hold it dear to our hearts," said Charlotte Kelly Bryant, executive director of the Blue Triangle Community Center on McGowen Street.
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Biggers founded the art department at Texas Southern University and was a world-renown artist until his death in 2001.
Harvey caused severe damage to the building's original 66-year-old roof that was already in need of repair. Water got into the building, creating conditions that damaged the mural.
"Because of Harvey coming down in such great volumes of water, combined with the heat and humidity it enabled the already present mold to grow," Bryant said.
Work to restore and preserve the mural is already underway.
"The resources of Houston's arts and cultural community have come together to assist the Blue Triangle and that has included the Museum of Fine Arts Houston sending over conservators in order to get the work stabilized," said Shannon Buggs, chief commons officer for CultureWorks Greater Houston and leader of the Harvey Arts Recovery Fund.
The fund will assist nonprofits like the Blue Triangle with grant writing and financial assistance.
Bryant says at least $300,000 is needed.
The Blue Triangle Community Center dates back to 1920, when it became the first branch of Houston's YWCA. After decades leasing space at various buildings throughout Third Ward, a group of 10 women purchased land at 3005 McGowen Street and completed construction on the current building in 1951.
In 1998, when the Houston YWCA lost United Way funding, branches were sold, and the Blue Triangle Multi-Cultural Association bought the building for $1 to keep it open to the community and preserve the history and traditions.
The building houses activity and meeting rooms, a gym and a pool where the center operates its signature swimming and water safety program.
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