Restored WPA mural unveiled

MILFORD >> “We Shall Pass This Way But Once,” the WPA mural fragment rescued from the former Central Grammar School downtown and restored, was unveiled Oct. 6 at the Milford Public Library.

The artwork, which had hung 40 years, was saved when CGS was razed in 1986.

The rescuers were William Meddick, former executive director of the Milford Arts Council, and Frank Vespi, former arts coordinator for the Board of Education.

Speakers included Marion Morra, curator of the city’s William Meddick Permanent Art Collection, Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, Milford Library Director Chris Angeli, Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser and Milford Arts Council Executive Director Paige Miglio.

The fragment will hang permanently in the Milford Public Library. It had been in storage in the Board of Education offices at the Parsons Government Center until its recent restoration under the auspices of the Permanent Art Collection Committee of the Milford Arts Council.

The full mural showed boys and girls engaged in school activities.

The mural was created under the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935.

It was designed by Louis Agostini (1902-1977) and painted by Frank Rutoski (1905-2000), both of Connecticut. The oil on canvas mural was commissioned in 1937 and installed April 2, 1940.

CGS, on High Street, was then Milford’s largest educational institution.

The restored painting highlights the boys, as well as two city buildings: Plymouth Church, demolished in the 1950s; and what may have been the Sanford-Bristol House, c. 1789.

The restoration cost about $20,000, Morra has said. The Permanent Art Collection Committee worked about four years to research the project and raise the funds.

The restoration was done in about five months by conservators at the Williamstown Conservation Center in Williamstown, Mass.