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U.S. Post Office

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1934–1936, J. Ivan Dise and L. R. Hoffman; 1968 addition, Harry W. Gjelsteen. 101 W. Ludington St.

The one-story brick Moderne post office building contains one of the most outstanding and best-preserved examples of mural art sponsored by the federal government for a building in Michigan.

During the Great Depression the federal government commissioned artwork for many Michigan buildings. The most complete representation of such art in Michigan is from the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts program (1934–1943). Almost all the artwork commissioned for Michigan under this section remains in the original buildings for which it was intended, mostly post offices. The Iron Mountain post office is distinctive, as it contains artwork from the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP) and the Section of Fine Arts. The latter commissioned artist Vladimir Rousseff to execute six murals with the subject of pioneering and western expansion.

Most of Michigan's post office art consists of works that deal with the individual community. In this case, however, Rousseff painted scenes that pertain more generally to the western United States, in works titled Moving West, Washing and Carrying Gold, Watching an Early Train, Stage Coach, Ferry Boat, and Fight with Indians. Bulgarian-born Rousseff, who lived in Chicago and had a studio in a small town near Iron Mountain, was selected competitively to do the murals based on entry sketches for a major competition for the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D.C. Rousseff related his murals to the building through a common color scheme that was harmonious with the interior tones of the building and through internal elements of the composition. The federal art projects brought original painting and sculpture to smaller towns such as Iron Mountain in buildings that everyone visited.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "U.S. Post Office", [Iron Mountain, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-DK3.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 524-525.

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