Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Covington, Fountain County, Indiana
I didn’t make it a habit to check out courthouses or other government buildings on my trip, but the Fountain County courthouse in Covington, Indiana has something special. It was built between 1936 and 1937 during the Art Deco era, and also the Great Depression.
The walls of the courthouse also ended up being a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project; an attempt by the federal government to create public projects to employ some of the millions of unemployed Americans at the time. Eugene Savage was a Covington local, and an artist; he was hired to head up the project, a series of murals on the interior walls of the courthouse in 1939.
Savage was a professor for twenty-eight years at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, and during his career, he painted a number of famous murals, including one at Yale University.
The murals depict American life from before the Revolutionary War up through the period when the murals were painted in the 1930s. They include scenes of joy and tragedy, happiness and sorrow. There are battles and the aftermath, weddings, the industrial age, farming, and modern day inventions like the automobile. The artists make their political and social views known through their art.
The murals in Covington are beautiful, and interestingly and unheard of at the time, 9 of the 10 artists that were commissioned to complete the murals were women (Savage himself was the only man). Girl Power! They were recently restored, and definitely worth the time to check out. There were many more than I have shown; you can take an online tour of them here.