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New Deal postal art endures

Palm Beach mural
“The Legend of James Edward Hamilton, Mail Carrier,” a six-panel mural at the West Palm Beach, FL, Post Office.

The New Deal era murals that adorn Post Offices across the nation continue to fascinate the public.

The Palm Beach Post recently gave readers a history lesson on the artists and murals on view at three local facilities.

One, the 1940, six-panel work, “The Legend of James Edward Hamilton, Mail Carrier” depicts the Palm Beach to Miami route that mail carriers walked and rowed in the late 19th century. Hamilton and others came to be called “The Barefoot Mailmen” and were contract workers, so there are no official Post Office Department records of them.

The multi-panel work is by Stevan Dohanos, who went on to illustrate more than 125 Saturday Evening Post covers and design 46 postal stamps.

The federal government commissioned the murals to beautify federal buildings, including Post Offices, and to lift American spirits following the Great Depression. Artists were deployed to some 1,200 Post Offices.

Consistent with this tradition, the Postal Service makes every effort to preserve these historic murals for future generations and will not remove any artwork from its community of origin.

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