Historic Mural at Washington Irving School Threatened by Renovation

With the increased awareness of our historical heritage here in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, progress in renovations or building repairs sometimes threaten to eliminate or seriously damage even little gems that exist in our community.

One of these beauties is a WPA mural that adorns the walls of the library and a classroom at the Washington Irving Intermediate School.

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One of the panels from the mural painted in 1937.

This mural was painted by an artist Kenneth Loomis, and has survived 70 years basically unscathed. WPA was the Work Progress Administration created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the depression to give employment to artists who were out of work. Thousands of artists benefited from this program, creating hundreds of paintings and art pieces throughout our country. Much of this art still exists in New York State including one mural at Riker’s Island and another in the Hastings-on-Hudson School where it was restored and moved from one location in the school to another.

The mural at Washington Irving Intermediate School is a time capsule of sorts; starting with the indigenous Native Americans who populated the Hudson River Valley, it also includes a scene of the capture of Major Andre and continues through the industrial manufacturing of General Motors in the 1930’s.

Recent construction at Sleepy Hollow High School and planned renovations at Washington Irving have raised concerns as to what will be the fate of the mural. It certainly is an historic landmark that should be preserved within Washington Irving Intermediate School or perhaps moved to the Warner Library. Other schools that have WPA artwork have had the art restored and now use this historic artwork to teach, and have lesson plans that go along with the artwork. You can see an example of this at http://www.artic.edu/aic/students/mural_project/pages/M_booksNlinks.html. This is a good opportunity to integrate our local history with education. This would insure that it would be here for generations to appreciate its beauty and to continue our tradition of preserving our past history of Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.

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