Gallery members seek to have murals moved to civic centerPublished 4:22am Saturday, July 5, 2014
Four murals hang in the seldom-used Wetumpka Preforming Arts Center in what used to the be old Wetumpka High School auditorium.
The murals, which were painted by Air Force Pvt. Harlyn Grout Dickinson while stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, were part of a set of eight to be painted to depict key settlement dates in Alabama’s history.
Four of the eight were not completed because Dickinson was drafted.
One mural, which depicts the Settlers of Alabama in 1820 along the Coosa River Valley, is 12 feet wide by 5 feet tall.
The three other murals — The Meeting of Hernando DeSoto and Choctaw Chief Tuskaloosa in 1540; Building of Fort Toulouse by the French in 1714 and the Surrender of Weatherford to Andrew Jackson in 1814 — are 8 feet tall and 7 feet wide.
“The proposal, which has been sent to the Elmore County Board of Education and to the City of Wetumpka, is for the Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery to be awarded custody so that funds may be raised to restore and have the murals hang in a more public place like the Wetumpka Civic Center,” said Mark Harris, curator of the Fitzpatrick gallery.
Harris said the murals were part of thousands of paintings, sculptures and photographs purchased by the federal government through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, so the murals can’t be separated.
“We believe the Wetumpka Civic Center is the ideal location for them,” Harris added. “We have taken measurements of the wall space in the lobby of the civic center and we have determined that all four murals will fit nicely within this single room.”
Right now the murals are in the possession of the Elmore County School System. Former superintendent Ross McQueen obtained the murals from Maxwell Air Force Base in 1964. The base post office where the murals were hung was demolished in 1961.