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.