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What's the story of our post office mural?

By Fred Steiner,

Have you ever stood in line for stamps at the Bluffton post office and wondered why there is a mural on the lobby’s north wall?

Who was the artist and what does the mural portray?

And, who paid for the mural?

Here’s the answer:

In 1935, the U.S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts sponsored an artist-juried contest to help find artists for federal jobs. The Section of Fine Arts was all a part of the Work Progress Administration, better known as the WPA.

The Bluffton post office mural artist’s name is Sante Graziani. He painted the mural in 1941. It is an oil on canvas painting.

The mural is part of a body of work that won him national recognition at age 22 and launched his career as artist and mentor to generations of young artists.

His work includes murals and portraits, book illustrations and pop art. His murals can be found in schools, banks, clinics, corporate offices and libraries–and in Bluffton’s post office lobby (132 S. Main).

Graziani died at age 85 in March of 2005. His obituary was published in the Boston Globe newspaper. He was recipient of many art awards. Several examples of his art are at the bottom of this story.

In 1942 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale and taught there from 1946 to 1951. He earned a master’s degree from Yale in 1948.

From 1951 to 1981 he was dean of what was then called the School of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts.

The Bluffton mural depicts Joseph DeFord and his friends building the first cabin in what eventually was called Bluffton. When DeFord lived here, the unincorporated community was known as Shannon.

More information on the artist and the mural at

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