The legacy of WPA murals

I took these photos of the 1938 Wendell Jones mural, “First Pulpit In Granville” at the Granville, Ohio branch of the U.S. Post Office. The mural depicts the makeshift pulpit created by the Congregationalist settlers of Granville. They chopped down a tree near the center of the village and the stump served as a pulpit for their Sabbath service of thanksgiving. They had come from Granville, Massachusets and had much to be thankful for, having survived a long and difficult journey of about seven hundred miles over the Appalacian mountains. Remember, this was 1805!

The story has it that another early settler, a Welshman named Theophilus Rees, heard the congregation singing as he was in the area searching for some stray cattle. He must have liked what he heard, for he was said to visit the church frequently after that.

Sponsored by the Granville 2005 Bi-Centennial Committee, the mural was painstakingly cleaned and restored a couple years ago. Part of the restoration included the removal of an old, unused vent (see lower middle image). You can see how seamlessly the artists covered the new canvas put in its place; it is now just part of the fallen tree.

The history of the Works Progress Administration murals can be read at the WP Murals website. It’s a wonderful tribute to the artists whose fine work was sponsored by the United State’s Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) during the great depression of the 1930’s. The Granville Post Office mural is among those pictured there.

Granville is a stuffy little college town in many ways, but it’s beautiful and values historic preservation. Sometimes I really miss living there. I think being a homeowner there would be frustrating (aside from the high taxes!) because of village ordinances; God forbid you put up fiberglas shutters on a village home, you know? The Granville Sentinel/Community Booster will keep you abreast of all the big news there…Some of it is pretty funny, all the terribly important angst and strivings of small towns.

The photos were taken with my Olympus C-2100uz in 2003. I wanted to show more than just the wide image of the entire mural, so I tonight I edited some of the shots in Photoshop and included several of the close-up shots to highlight details. I added drop shadows and contoured edges to each layer, flattened the image, then framed the whole collage.

2 thoughts on “The legacy of WPA murals

  1. That’s exactly the kind of thing. It’s such a beautiful town, and I appreciate the efforts to keep it so, but sometimes they’re too nitpicky. I thought it was funny that they couldn’t identify the goundskeeper. Maybe the guy just doesn’t want to have to do the trim work around a gazebo or maintain it, huh?

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