The mural by Lucile Blanch in the Tylertown post office can claim something that few other post offices can. Not only did the artist (also known as Lucille Blanch, Lucile Lunquist Blanch, Lucile Lundquist-Blanch, and Lucille Lundquist-Blanch) actually paint the mural in the same town for which the work was commissioned,
She took great pleasure in talking to townsfolk about the progress of the painting, and they, in turn, enjoyed seeing places they knew develop in the work. (Deborah Purnell, UM Quest, Fall 2004)
Blanch’s work was a fresco painted directly onto the wall, rather than on a canvas and later installed, as were most of the post office murals.
The mural was completed in 1941. Blanch was born in Hawley, Minnesota in 1895, received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1933, and died in New York in 1981 (John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Smithsonian American Art Museum). Hawley is a small town on the Buffalo River, so perhaps Tylertown, Mississippi was not that much of an adjustment for a 46 year old artist who had done a bit of traveling by then.
Check out the dapper angle of the gent’s hat as they walk into “the present.” Yes, back then, no well-dressed gentleman would leave home without his hat, but he looks like he might be about to break into song and dance any second and give those “black-and-white spectators” some real action.
And, once again, I will throw out my gripe about the post offices around the country who installed light fixtures on these works of art.
Blanch’s work was one of the murals commissioned by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts, under the New Deal Administration. The 1940 Colonial Revival post office was built by Dye & Mullings of Columbia and Hattiesburg (Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Historic Resources Inventory database). It was one of 5 Mississippi post offices constructed by the firm between 1931-1940, with Tylertown being the last one. You’ll recognize it: it looks just like all the other Colonial Revival post offices in this part of the state.
All images used with permission of the United States Postal Service.