Mount Pleasant, TN Post Office and Mural

Post Office Mount Pleasant TN-2

Mount Pleasant, Tennessee is another community that has–so far–retained its historic post office located near downtown.  According to J. Davis, C. Hankins, and C. Van West (2003), the Mt. Pleasant post office is

…considered one of the best examples of this design still extant in Tennessee.

Van West (2001) described it as a

…blend of modernist elements with an overall symmetrical shape reminiscent of the state’s other Colonial Revival post offices.

The “modernist” influence is evident in the canopy over the door, the window design, and the brick insets below the windows. The shape and eagle sculpture, along with the traditional wooden entry vestibule and marble wainscoting in the interior lobby reflect the typical design of these post offices from that period.  It was one of some 200 post offices constructed by the Federal Works Agency in smaller communities across the United States in 1940.  It also houses a mural, completed with funds from the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture, 1934-1943.  It was renamed the Section of Fine Arts in 1938.

Eugene Higgins was born in Missouri in 1874.  His parents were Irish immigrants and his father was a stone cutter.  Higgins studied at the Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux-Arts, both in Paris (Williams American Art and Antiques, 2015).  He worked primarily in the New York area, although his studio was located in Lyme, Connecticut (Smithsonian American Art Museum).

The post office celebrated 75 years in Mt. Pleasant in November.  Current postmaster, Robert Wakefield, reported  the files contained a letter from Higgins, and “he was coming to install the painting” (Post office celebrates 75 years in Mt. Pleasant, November 15, 2015, Columbia Daily Herald).

Although Higgins was considered a “social realist” in subject matter depicting the poor, his work was also influenced by European styles.

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This entry was posted in Modernism, New Deal Administration, Post Offices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Mount Pleasant, TN Post Office and Mural

  1. Wow, what an amazing post office. 1940 is well ahead of the date I would have guessed. Those cold joint brick insets below the windows pop up all over the place by the 1950’s

    • Suzassippi says:

      Ah, so that’s what they are called. 🙂 I have seen them in a few buildings, but never looked them up.

      • The brick bond is “stack bond”, probably not technically a cold joint but I’ve always referred to any continuous vertical joint as a cold joint.

        I go back an forth on weather or not I like this bond pattern. Some times it is executed quite well. Other times it makes the wall look weak, like it will fall over any minute. I suppose its all about keeping very straight plumb lines and all your surfaces flush.

  2. Suzassippi says:

    It is still pretty, though. 🙂

  3. Susan Lentz says:

    Don’t think I have ever heard of Mount Pleasant and now I learn that it has a lot to offer – not to mention that it’s only 50 miles away! Thanks so much for this write up!

  4. socialbridge says:

    Suz, love this post, especially the mural.
    I used to live right beside Mount Pleasant in Dublin!

  5. Sheryl says:

    Interesting. . . Until I read this, I hadn’t realized that the Federal Works Agency constructed post offices in some communities.

    • Suzassippi says:

      It can be pretty daunting to keep all of the programs separate. Reorganization would at times move an agency into a new umbrella agency. In 1939, the Treasury Department lost its independent status and was moved to the Public Buildings Branch of the Procurement Division of the Treasury; The supervising Architect’s Office was moved to the Public Buildings Administration within the Federal Works Agency.

  6. Beth says:

    Thank you for sharing another amazing post office and mural!

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