Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Rockville Post Office Mural

Word comes that the General Services Administration has donated the old Rockville Post Office to the city government for use as the Rockville Police Department headquarters. According to, the renovation will cost $7.9 million while "retaining the historic nature of the building, specifically the exterior facades facing South Washington Street and West Montgomery Avenue and the lobby."

That's cool. But what's more interesting to me is that this historic building houses yet another WPA mural. (I wrote about the Silver Spring mural recently.) Painted in 1940 by Judson Dejonge Smith, the Rockville mural features Sugarloaf Mountain. Fortunately, the city will preserve the mural as part of the renovation process.

I love the mural in part because it looks like it could have been painted today. Owned and preserved by the Strong Foundation, Sugarloaf Mountain looks just as it did nearly 70 years ago - unlike the rest of Montgomery County. Yes, some new McMansions scar the bucolic beauty, but the region has escaped the biggest banes of suburbia: way too many Bradford pear trees, way too many houses on way too tiny lots, and worst of all, way too many strip malls and big-box stores.

Judson Smith painted at least two other murals in a similar simple and naturalistic style. This mural, entitled "Along the Barge Canal," hangs in the Albion, NY, post office. Smith painted it in 1939, a year before painting "Sugarloaf Mountain" for Rockville's post office.

And here is his painting of the beautiful Lake George for the post office there. He finished this work in 1942. It reminds me very much of the "Sugarloaf Mountain" mural.

Born in Michigan in 1880, Judson has been described as a "businessman turned painter." A painter, teacher and muralist, Judson Smith lived both in Michigan and Woodstock, New York, where he was the Director of the Woodstock School of Painting. He is recognized as one of the best New Deal painters.

As our nation's leaders attempt to pull our country from the brink of depression, perhaps they will commission new artwork for our public spaces. Hopefully not yet another ugly abstract metal sculpture! But more naturalistic paintings inspired by Judson Dejonge Smith's fine work.

1 comment :

роспись стен said...

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