Auriel Bessemer’s 1939 mural is one of a number of Mississippi post office murals, commissioned through the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Arts program, that depicted the cotton industry in the state. Bessemer, daughter of Hungarian immigrants, was from Grand Rapids, Michigan (Susan M. Enzweiler. 1992. National Register of Historic Places nomination form). Her many accomplishments included working with the Gallery of Modern Masters in Washington and the American Museum of Natural History in New York (Enzweiler).
In this close up of a section of the mural, note the gentleman (one of the workers I presume, given his darker complexion) who appears to be napping in full view of the overseer on the white horse. I may be going out on a limb here, but I am going to call that most likely historically inaccurate. Bessemer’s work would not be the first if it were to be criticized in later years for a romanticized depiction of the cotton industry’s labor practices.
In yet another very slight variation of the popular Colonial Revival style during the New Deal Administration years,the 1938 Hazlehurst version preceded the Crystal Springs post office featured last week. Enzweiler notes in the nomination form:
…wooden fluted Doric pilasters…cast metal Eagle…English bond brick pattern…original wooden vestibule…marble wainscoting…terrrazzo floor.
Can you spot the differences?