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This is a nice little slice of Americana. After seeing the documentary "Unbeaten", it prompted me to explore more online...
Learn more about Goodland by following the links below:
Rural Free Delivery
124 E. 11th
About this Exploration:
As America struggled to climb out of the Great Depression, the Roosevelt Administration tried to find ways to put people to work. One of these programs, The Section for Fine Arts, employed artists to produce public art, including the mural Rural Free Delivery in the Goodland Post Office.
Cubist painter Kenneth Miller Adams was born in Topeka Aug. 6, 1897. In 1933, he was teaching art at the University of New Mexico when fellow New Mexican artist Gustave Baumann approached him about joining "The Section." The government offered him $42.40 a week, more than he was being paid as an art professor. He left the university and went to work for the government. At first he was hired to paint "easel paintings" and was gratified to find that he was in one of the pay scale's upper tiers. The government did not pay for materials and originally expected the artist to pay for them. Most artists could not afford their materials, so eventually sponsors were asked to pay.
The Section awarded Adams the Goodland commission based on designs submitted for another competition. He received the $985 contract June 15, 1936. He painted it with oil on canvas, then it was attached to the wall with white lead and varnish March 22, 1937. In Class C and D post offices like Goodland, the murals were usually hung above the Postmaster's office and Rural Free Delivery followed suit.
The institution of Rural Free Delivery (RFD) had lessened farmers' isolation. With a mail carrier coming to their homes, they could receive letters, news and even store-bought goods. RFD began in the late 1890s and the last routes had been established by 1926. The RFD carrier soon became a symbol of rural life.
Adams painted only one more work for The Section, in the Deming, N.M., Post Office. Usually the community and the artist would discuss the artwork's subject and composition, but Adams said he received no instruction from either Postmaster. "I think probably most of us [artists] would endeavor to develop our material, the material for our designs, out of a regional motivation, either landscape or the activities of the particular community. I know both of mine were," he said.
He was offered one more commission from a part of the country "he knew no more of than he did of Florida" and refused it for that reason and because the pay would not cover the cost. Adams requested further work from The Section, but received no more. That government program ended in 1935.
Many of The Section's paintings have been lost or painted over, but Goodland's is still in good shape. Partially due to Rural Free Delivery, Goodland Post Office was listed on National Register of Historic Places Oct. 17, 1989. Post Office Section Art, including Goodland's, was named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Art finalists.
Counter is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 9-10:30 a.m. Last mail collection is Monday-Saturday 12:45 p.m. Mountain Time. Closed on federal holidays. Lobby is open around the clock.
Goodland also boasts two outdoor murals: History of the Opera House and Bygone Days on the Bricks. See more murals at the Sherman Theatre.
Goodland, KS 67735