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O’Fallon Ill Post office

O’Fallon Post Office W.P.A. Mural – The mural is an original oil on canvas painting by Merlin F. Pollack of Chicago, titled “John Mason Peck, First Postmaster Handing Out Mail—1830”.

When the first Post Office in this area was founded at Rock Spring (in present day east O’Fallon) on the old Vincennes-St. Louis Rd. in 1827, Peck was appointed first Postmaster. A Baptist missionary and educator, he apparently handed out mail in his spare time when he wasn’t running a seminary, writing or preaching.

The mural was commissioned in 1939 by the Section of Fine Arts, Federal Works Agency, Public Building Administration as part of a nationwide Roosevelt era program to “secure murals and sculptures of distinguished quality appropriate to the embellishment of federal buildings.” About 1 percent of the total cost limit of the building was to be reserved for such decorations. Commissions were offered through juried competitions in which the intrinsic quality of the painting or sculpture and its relationship to its setting was judged.

Pollack’s mural was installed in the newly built Post Office which once stood on the northeast corner of Lincoln Ave. & 3rd St. in June 1939. The artist was a 34 year old native of Manitowoc, Wisconsin and a 1930 graduate of the Chicago Art Institute. He studied mural and fresco painting in Italy and France and taught fresco at the Chicago Art Institute prior to his O’Fallon commission.

When the Post Office moved to its present quarters on S. Lincoln Ave., the mural appropriately moved with it after it was cleaned and restored to its prominent and fitting position in the lobby—a reminder of almost 175 years of postal history in our town.