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Post office mural restoration sought

Research into conserving the historic mural in the Lincolnton Post Office continues, and thanks to a federal grant and a private donation, supporters are one step closer to reviving the painting.
Conservators from Parma Conservation out of Chicago were in town Saturday to assess damage to the mural, which has adorned the post office wall since 1938.
The mural, titled “Threshing Grain,” has been darkened and dirtied over the years, likely by fossil fuel heat and cigarette smoke, said conservator Elizabeth Kendall.
Kendall is the second conservator to inspect the mural. In April, Craig Crawford with Crawford Conservation Inc. out of Columbia, S.C. came to Lincolnton after a request from the Lincoln County Historical Association.
Crawford estimated that it would cost $8,000 to $10,000 to clean the mural, said Jason Harpe, director of the Museum of History. That amount would include the conservator’s lodging and other requirements.
Since the association’s intent to conserve the painting became known, several people have shown interest in it, Harpe said.
Resident Walter Clark pledged $2,000 to the cause, Harpe said. And the Federal Preservation Office has agreed to pay half the conservation costs.
Harpe hopes that other local history or art buffs will also help out.
“We’re coming up with over half (of the cost), but we still need two or three more donations,” Harpe said.
Interest in the mural’s preservation developed after resident Mike Ottinger starting researching it as part of a Leadership Lincoln project.
During an April interview, Ottinger said he was mystified by the mural and the artist, Richard Jansen. His research was extensive.
Jansen painted “Threshing Grain” in 1938 as part of the Works Projects Administration’s Federal Art Project. The WPA was established during the Great Depression to combat unemployment and give artists and writers, who were especially hard hit by the economic downfall, a chance to work.
For information on how to help the Historical Association preserve the mural, call Harpe at 704-748-9090.by Alice Smith

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