By Glenn Collins
Thursday, January 21, 2010 | 8:30 PM
The Haleyville Historical Society has awarded local artist Robert Rayburn a project to paint a reproduction of "Reforestation," a 1940s mural that once adorned the wall of the entrance to the postmaster's office. The building now serves as the Haleyville Public Library. The society hopes to unveil the reproduction, a 24-inch by 56-inch oil on canvas, at Alumni Day (June 5, 2010) festivities, according to Kenneth Ward, president of the society.
The society has used many fundraisers in hopes to restore the original mural, which is painted over. However, that project, at $30,0000, was cost-probitive. Instead, a request for bids went out to create a reproduction. Ward has not given up hope on restoring the original though. He said, "Maybe through some miracle we might be able to reveal it." In the meantime, the reproduction will hang on the same wall as the mural.
The original mural, entitled "Reforestation," in the (then) Haleyville Post Office was painted by Hollis Holbrook in 1940. He died in 1984 in Gainesville, Fla., at 75. The only known image of the mural is an 11-inch by 26-inch oil on fiberboard painted by Hollis and on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Hollis was commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts. "Often mistaken for WPA art, post office murals were actually executed by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts, established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department," according to EnRoute, the National Postal Museum's membership magazine.