During America's Great Depression in the 1930's and early 40's
many jobs for artists were created by the federal government.
Enduring images of "American Life" were depicted in large works,
usually murals inspired by Diego Rivera's Mexican mural tradition stressing
social change. However the hard realities of American life were not shown in
these murals, it was the everyday heroic and daring acts that were portrayed.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's WPA New Deal program funded the artwork, and
the murals were produced by the Section of Fine Arts which was administered by
the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department. These new deal murals were considered
a purely democratic art form, accessible to all people in post offices that
existed in every community.
Many of these American wpa murals of art have been lost, stolen
or destroyed. In Concord North Carolina "The Spirit of North Carolina" new deal mural was
destroyed when the post office was torn down to build a new one. These precious
images of our American way of life have become few and far between. The good news
is that there are some of the WPA New Deal murals still left here in Appalachian Mountains.
In Brevard the "Good News" glazed tempera mural has been moved from the post
office to the Transylvania Library. In Belmont the oil on canvas mural "Major William's South Fork Boys"
is still in the post office, which is now being used as the Belmont City Hall. Canton's "Paper" mural
is a Terra-cotta 7 reliefs mural. Gastonia's "Cotton Field and Spinning Mill" oil on canvas mural is
still in their post office. Morganton and Lincolnton still have their post office murals intact and
restored. King's Mountain's "Battle of King's Mountain" mural is still intact. Forest City has a
plaster relief mural entitled "Rural Delivery." The Boone New Deal mural "Daniel Boone on a
Hunting Trip" has been restored and is now featured on the Appalachian Mural Trail so it's original
intent can continue... to be viewed by everyone!
As in these purely American New Deal murals, storytelling is a
vivid part of mural art, stories are handed down, drifting through many generations.
Today the Mural Movement has started an even more colorful way of passing our tall
tales to future generations: historical public mural art. Magnificent murals speak
of life as they shine a light on cultural heritage and creativity. The Appalachian
Mural Trail has been developed as a way to document and share these huge works of
art with the world.
After 10 years of research, the Appalachian Mural Trail came
alive in 2017 at the hands of Jerry and Doreyl Ammons Cain. The project has now
blossomed into a viable, expanding success with 80 historical
murals on the trail. We are currently out and about looking at great "new deal era" murals
that are worthy to be dedicated to the Appalachian Mural Trail.
So check back with us often to see the new surprises that are coming to this page.
"Threshing Grain" was painted by Richard H. Jansen in 1938.
The mural measures 14' wide by 4'6" high with a total approximate area of 63 square
feet. Jansen used the medium oil on canvas, and completed the mural in 232 calendar
days. Postmaster J.F. Seagle announced in the
Lincoln County News the mural's placement in the west end of the building and
its depiction of
John E. Costigan's "Receiving the Mail on the Farm" was
installed in the Stuart, Virginia Post Office in 1942.
This mural is the third of
three very similar post office murals completed by Costigan and commissioned by
the Section of Fine Arts of the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of the
New Deal public works.
The Stuart mural portrays a father reading to his wife and children what could be an invoice
for the bags of seed pictured while draft horses wait patiently for the
The historic post office in Appalachia, Virginia houses an example of New Deal artwork: a mural
entitled "Appalachia". The Treasury Section of Fine Arts commissioned the work, which was created by
Lucile Blanch. The mural was completed and installed in the post office lobby in 1940.
Blanch was one of the few artists who actually painted WPA murals in the same town for which the
work was commissioned and accepted input from
Inside the historic downtown Boone Post Office, the mural "Daniel Boone on a Hunting Trip" by the noted muralists, Alan Tompkins,
depicts the town s famous namesake with locals who gaze with keen anticipation from the frontier to the wilderness.
Through the Federal Arts Project program, art was
chosen for a Post Office in each state through anonymous competitions sponsored by the Treasury Department. For the
Boone Post Office, 1,475 designs were submitted and the average commission was $725. Life magazine published each state's
winning mural with Boone representing the state of North Carolina. Recently restored in