Historic Lakeland mural to be restored

LAKELAND, Fla. - History; hidden by paint.

In the early 1960's George W. Jenkins Jr. proudly presented a tile mosaic mural in front of his Publix on Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland.

Jenkins could have never imagined that more than 50 years later, the building would sell and someone would paint over the colorful mural.

"I think that a lot of art has been taken out of this entire complex," Katie Hallford said.

Hallford spent her years growing up around the 'Searstown' center. Now it's known as the Town Center, housing stores like Save a Lot and Family Dollar.

"It was very bright and vibrant. It is not anymore, it's just plain," Hallford said.

When National Properties Trust, Inc. bought the building, the historic mosaic was covered with a brownish-white paint.

Lake residents took offense and even drew up a petition, to remove the paint and restore it.

Monday, more than 630 signatures were presented to the National Properties Trust, Inc board by a passionate group of people including the Publix Founder's grandson. To their surprise, the company obliged and agreed that the mosaic should be restored to it's natural beauty.

"Right now it looks very drag like extremely dry and everybody that's walking around they just don't seem happy," Hallford explained the mundane look of the Town Center.

Michael Kerr also grew up next to the "old" downtown, and agrees.

"I used to come down here grocery shopping with my grandmother and my grandfather, now it's so plain," Kerr said.

But persistence pays off and Lakeland historians will get what they asked for, as long as they are able to pay for it.

"It would be nice for it to be back the way it was," Hallford said.

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