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Historic mural gets new life in new home
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PORT REPUBLIC - A historic mural hanging in Smithville that hasn't been seen by the public in decades is getting a new home.

South Jersey is an area rich with history, and for officials in Port Republic, their new City Hall building is about to receive a small piece of that history.

"This is absolutely priceless," said Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson.

On Wednesday morning, a 40-foot mural depicting the Battle of Chestnut Neck, which was the only revolutionary war battle fought in South Jersey, was removed from Fred and Ethel's tavern, where it's been hanging for decades.

"The mural was part of the history of Smithville itself, because this all took place 3 miles from here," said Giberson.

"No one has seen it for 39 years because it's been sitting in a place that nobody could get to it," said Chuck Bushar, "It wasn't safe to get up there."

Officials say that close to 4 decades ago, the upstairs banquet room at Fred and Ethel's was unfortunately closed to the public after the Americans with Disabilities Act required them to build an elevator which they couldn't do. That was the last time anyone saw the historic mural.

But on Wednesday, it was cleaned by members of the Noyes Museum and taken down.

"In a sense, we're happy to see it go, because now it will be appreciated by many more people," said Bushar.

After some more repairs, the mural is being donated to the city of Port Republic.

"This will be displayed on the 27-foot wall, all of it's own space, all of it's own lighting, and it will be part of the new municipal complex," explained Giberson.

"And Chestnut Neck was devastated in this attack, but the pioneers who lived there moved to Port Republic, which is where it's going," said Bushar, "It's an appropriate place for it to be. It couldn't be better."

Officials say a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new municipal building is set for late June, when the mural will be on display.

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