David Stone Martin’s 1940 mural, Electrification, was one of the 48 state post office mural competitions. The tempura on cardboard mural reflected the transformation of the rural south due to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electrification Administration efforts during the Great Depression. The building of Fort Loudon dam nearby was one of the sources of the electricity harnessed from the rivers of Tennessee. Nine of every ten farms in Tennessee during the early 1930s had no electricity.
One of the New Deal’s major achievements was bringing electrical power to rural parts of the country and this success was most vividly demonstrated in the Tennessee River Valley. Through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the federal government built a series of huge hydroelectric dams to provide power to the countryside. Artist David Stone Martin memorialized this accomplishment his mural for the post office in Lenoir, Tennessee. (A New Deal for the Arts: The National Archives. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/new_deal_for_the_arts/work_pays_america.html)
Purcell called the Lenoir City post office (and its “merely hint at Colonial Revival Style”):
one of the state’s most unadorned New Deal buildings as far as architectural style. (A. D. Purcell, 2009, White collar radicals: TVA’s Knoxville Fifteen, the New Deal, and the McCarthy Era. Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press.)
Perhaps it is indeed “unadorned” but one important fact remains: Lenoir City has seen the importance of not only preserving the post office and Martin’s mural, but of continuing to utilize it as the town’s post office, and keeping the art intended for the people of the community available for the community.