PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Society Hill Playhouse is in the process of being torn down, but several pieces of a mosaic mural to be saved have gone missing. A neighborhood non-profit group is asking for them back.
The mosaic works of Philadelphia artist Isaiah Zagar adorn more than 200 public walls in the city, mostly around South Street.
“It’s beautiful! I feel like it represents the neighborhood really well,” Carolyn Scipioni of Society Hill. “Just artsy and fun. It’s a great piece.”
Others agree, so much so that people are taking parts of the Society Hill Playhouse mural home with them.
“It’s kind of a shame,” Scipioni said. “It’s like vandalism.”
“Some people come at nighttime and I can hear the tapping when I’m up on my deck upstairs,” said Carlos Alvarez, who owns Cedrone’s Flowers across the street. “I guess people are taking their memoirs, you know.”
After more than 50 years, the playhouse closed for good in April. Crews are in the process of tearing it down to make way for proposed apartments.
“It really tugged at my heart because it’s part of the neighborhood,” Alvarez said. “We’ve actually been in this neighborhood since 1951. My father’s first store was up the street there, and then we moved on this corner in ’61. And I saw all the changes.”
Though the playhouse is going away, the mosaic will remain in another form.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the home of Zagar’s largest art installation, is calling on neighbors to return any pieces they may have taken so that he can reuse them in a new mural elsewhere.
“You hate to see the past go, but, I’m looking forward to the future,” Alvarez said.