New Deal/WPA Art in Wakefield, Rhode Island

Post Office New Deal Artwork

Most of the Post Office works of art were funded through commissions under the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture (later known as The Section of Fine Arts). The Section's goal was to decorate new federal buildings with work of the highest quality. This was not a relief program like the WPA or TRAP. Those works that were created using TRAP funds are so indicated. Although the WPA funded the construction of Post Office buildings, the artwork was not WPA but was produced under the Section or TRAP programs. Unless indicated, works of art are located in the US Post Office building.

Wakefield, RI Post Office
"The Economic Activities of the Narragansett Planters"
Ernest Hamlin Baker (1940) - oil on canvas
(funded by a Treasury Department Section commission)

Image courtesy of the USPS

Ernest Hamlin Baker's controversial mural, "The Economic Activities of the Narragansett Planters," was installed in the Wakefield, RI post office until the building's closing in 1999. In June 2003, this mural was restored and reinstalled in the Pettaquanscutt Historial Society located in the Old Washington Jail, 2636 Kingstown Road, Kingston, RI. Regular hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 1 to 4 pm.

The 2003 exhibition booklet on this mural entitled "Picturing History: Wakefield's Post Office Mural of 1939" is available from the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, 2636 Kingstown Road, Kingston, R.I. 02881 for $4.95 plus $1.50 shipping & postage.

For more information, contact:

The Pettaquamscutt Historical Society
2636 Kingstown Road
Kingston, RI 02881
TEL (401)783-1328
Director: Christopher P. Bickford
Open: Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday 1pm-4pm.
Closed November-March. Appointment recommended.

South County Independent article - "Plantation mural returns to South County," June 5, 2003.

For more detailed information about the Wakefield, RI Post Office mural, check out the Art Department at Brown University: and

E-mail Nancy