A few weeks ago, Mark Davis’ Restoring Picayune’s Disappeared WPA Mural not only provided a great story about the Picayune Post Office WPA mural, but included some wonderful photographs of other WPA post office murals. Not long after that, I found myself in Pontotoc, and as I was walking around the square, was reminded of the days when the post office–like most other businesses and services–was located downtown instead of out on some by-pass.
The original downtown Pontotoc Post Office was built in 1937 in the Georgian style (Mississippi Department of Archives and History/Historic Resources Inventory database). The architect was Louis A. Simon, Supervising Architect of the Treasury. Simon joined the office in 1896 and spent the rest of his career there. He was responsible for seven post offices in Mississippi, including one in near-by New Albany. Sanders & Cawthon (1993) described the building:
Colonial Revival, constructed 1936…central double-leaf aluminum and glass doors surrounded by a stone architrave with dentil molding in the cornice…stone water table and cornice with dentil molding…brick quoins at corners…granite steps.
I remembered the post on the Picayune murals and wondered if there might be one in the Pontotoc post office…stepped across the street and inside…
The mural, The Wedding of Ortez and SaOwana-Christmas 1540, was painted by Joseph Pollet (MDAH/HRI), completed and installed under the WPA program in 1939 (Princeton.edu). Pollet was born in Germany and emigrated to New York City in 1911 with his parents.
The mural depicts the feast given in 1540 by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto to honor the first recorded Christian marriage in North America, which took place near Pontotoc (Sanders & Cawthon, 1993). The mural is oil-on-canvas (WPA murals.com). The building is currently used as a museum.