THE STAMP OF FDR
NEW DEAL POST OFFICES IN THE MID-HUDSON VALLEY
by Bernice L. Thomas
Excerpt from the Introduction.
"Six Federal Post Offices in the Mid-Hudson Valley stand out as a group from the eleven hundred post offices built throughout America during the Great Depression. The distinctive Dutch Colonial revival buildings with murals on the lobby walls-five in towns strung like a necklace along the eastern shore of the Hudson river in Ellenville-all bear what the Ellenville Journal called "FDR's Stamp." How and why these buildings bear the special imprint of the president of the United States makes for a fascinating story.
President Roosevelt determinted the unique Dutch Colonial architectural style of the post offices in Beacon, Wappingers Falls, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Rhinebeck, and Ellenville, asking that a historic building in each locale be used as a model. The building material had to be fieldstone ,salvaged from the area whenever possible. The stone should be laid up in a simple vernacular format. The murals in the lobbies received the same meticulous attention. The president helped select the subject matter, reviewed the artists's sketches as the work progressed, and made corrections as he saw fit. Today the art and architecture of these New Deal post offices, standing in all but one instance in his home territory of Dutchess County, serve as a highly personal testimonial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, revealing his interests, his beliefs, and hid political accomplishments."
Bernice L. Thomas, Ph.D. is an art historian with a special interest in the early twentieth century. Her publications include America's 5 & 10 Cent Stores: The Kress Legacy. She is a Vassar graduate who moved to Poughkeepsie to expore the fascinating topic of the role of FDR in the formation of New Deal post offices in the area.
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