The Larchmont Public Library has recently restored two historic murals—Larchmont Manor House and Larchmont Yacht Club. The library invites members of the community to come view the murals on permanent display above the fireplaces in the library’s front reading rooms.
The murals, painted in oil on canvas, have been on display at the library since 1940, but have never been cleaned or restored. Over time, oil paintings tend to deteriorate as they constantly are exposed to dust, heat and other elements. In order to restore these iconic murals to their original beauty, the library hired Susan Blakney, founder and chief conservator of West Late Conservators, Ltd., in Skaneateles, NY.
Following a rigorous grant submission process, the library was selected as one of only 20 organizations to receive grant money from the Conservation Treatment Grant Program of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network. This $7,500 grant helped fund the restoration. The remaining costs of the restoration were made possible through generous donations from Mr. And Mrs. Carl Olsson, the Larchmont Yacht Club and The Friends of the Larchmont Library.
The murals were painted by landscape artist Thomas Donnelly (1893-1971), under the auspices of the W.P.A. (Works Project Administration). One of the murals depicts the Larchmont Manor House, among the oldest houses in Larchmont (built by Peter Jay). In 1865, the 400-acre property on which the Manor House stood was divided up and sold into smaller lots; this neighborhood is still referred to today as “Larchmont Manor.” The second mural shows two sailors setting sail on a summer day, reflecting what a summer day in Larchmont Harbor in the 1930s might have been like.
The W.P.A. was an agency created by Franklin D. Roosevelt, as part of his New Deal. The agency hired hundreds of thousands of unemployed people to carry out public works projects, including art projects. Many murals found today in post offices and other public spaces throughout the United States were painted by artists commissioned by the W.P.A.
Library Director Laura Eckley comments, “We know our patrons are proud of their community and its heritage. The Donnelly W.P.A. murals are part of the library’s history and many patrons who were raised in Larchmont have told us how vividly they remember these murals from their childhoods. Restoration of these murals will allow future generations to continue to enjoy them. “