Diamonds are forever, but ad may not survive anniversary
Heritage lovers bid to preserve 60-year-old sign However, owner doesn’t see point in saving mural
There’s no bling in these wedding rings anymore.
The paint has faded, chipped away by the elements and time. It’s a throwback to the days when wedding rings cost $125 in an area where the word “discount” sprawls across numerous signs.
On Weston Rd., just north of Lawrence Ave. W., this mural, or ad, for Weston Credit Jewellers rests on a brick wall on the side of Christine’s Fashions. A red “clearance” banner from the store hangs diagonally below the painting that advertises a $12 down payment and weekly instalments of $2 for a “10 diamond duet.”
Overlooking a parking lot, it’s a can’t-miss point when heading south on Weston.
But it’s also a point of contention between residents and business owners.
Just up the road from the mural, Suri Weinberg-Linsky, owner of Squibb’s Stationers, has been pushing to protect the painting and apply a heritage designation to it.
“It’s a talking point and a feature to the community whether you’re a newcomer to the community or not,” said WeinbergLinsky, who is also the chair of the streetscape committee for Weston Business Improvement Area. “It’s a happier atmosphere when there’s something that looks different, something out of a bygone era.” Community members remember how an armed robbery and subsequent shooting of the owner of the Weston Credit Jewellers in the 1980s changed the dynamic of the neighbourhood, which had seen very little crime before the incident.
About four years ago, the mural was rediscovered when the Kresge Building was torn down to build the parking lot. Erected in the mid-1950s, the building squatted next to the mural. That sheltered and preserved the painting, which many in the community believe went up somewhere around World War II. But without the building, there’s been no protection.
“The people running the business in that store have been systematically tapping into the wall with nails and bolts,” said Weinberg-Linsky. “You can create a mural on a wall, but to find something that’s so well-preserved from 60 years ago is a treasure. It’s a find and it’s something worth protecting and maintaining as part of the heritage of the community.”
But the building owner disagrees, saying no one notices the aging mural.
Tony Prieto, who also owns the Budget Shoe Warehouse across the street, has frequently been approached to sign an agreement to restore the mural or support having it declared of heritage status. A city grant program There was a city grant program available in which the city would have paid to restore the mural.
But Prieto, who has operated his store and lived in the area 23 years, said he doesn’t want a locked-in agreement that would restrict tenants from putting signage or objects on the wall.
Weinberg-Linsky says property owners should link historic legacy with healthy community. Mary Louise Ashbourne, president of the Weston Historical Society, also treasures the mural’s significance.
“It was run as an ad but has become folk art,” said the 73-yearold, a life-long Weston resident. “Every time I walk by, I regret that it is washing away.”
This ad out of history has spurred controversy on Weston Rd. Suri Weinberg-Linsky would like to see it remain. The building owner is not as attached to its survival.