Molly Pitcher Mural, 1991

RECORD GROUP: Other County Records
RECORD SERIES #: 5200
SERIES: Molly Pitcher Mural
DATE: 1935
VOLUME: 1 mural, 1 folder

ABSTRACT

The Molly Pitcher Mural Site Selection scrapbook includies clippings, photographs, and correspondence relating to the controversial relocation in 1991 of the “Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth” mural painted in tempera by Gerald S. Foster in 1935.

HISTORY

Foster’s 4×12-foot mural “Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth,” was hung in the old post office in Freehold Borough in December 1935. When the post office moved in 1989, the U.S. Postal Service wanted to install the mural in its new facility on Route 537. However, the Monmouth County Historical Commission objected on the grounds that the mural should be hung in a county facility. The Postal Service could not give the mural away, but determined that it could place it in the care of the Commission. After considering a number of sites, the mural eventually was hung in the lobby of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, at 125 Symmes Drive in Manalapan.

Foster
Gerald S. Foster
US Passport #294834, March 24, 1923.
Gerald Sargent Foster was born September 30, 1900, in Westfield, New Jersey. In 1935, the Works Projects Administration (WPA), the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Arts, sponsored a design contest. They chose Foster’s as best of the twenty-five entries and commissioned Foster to paint a mural for the post office in Freehold. Foster received $882. Franklin D. Roosevelt was so impressed with Foster’s work, he encouraged him to paint more. Foster followed in 1937 with a mural called “The Battle of Cranford during the American Revolution,” for the post office in Cranford, where it is still on display. In 1938, Foster painted the mural “Indian Resting Spot – 1690” for the Post Office in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1940, he painted the mural “Revolutionary Engagement at Bridge in Millburn – 1780,” which hung in the Post Office in Millburn, New Jersey, but was later destroyed. Foster died in June 1987, in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

SCOPE & CONTENT

This album was compiled to inform New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley and Representative Chris Smith of the events and negotiations undertaken by the Monmouth County Historical Commission to obtain a new site to display the mural after the post office was relocated.

Clippings
The newspaper clippings include considerable information about the history of the mural and the controversy over its move. The collection includes a petition signed by about 1,100 people requesting the mural be hung in the Jury Assembly Room at the Monmouth County Courthouse.

Photographs
There are thirty-eight 3.5×5 inch color photographs and one 8×10 color photograph in the album. All the photographs have captions and include a view of the mural in its original location at the old post office, and views in and around the new post office, the Monmouth County Historical Association, the Monmouth County Court House, the Jury Assembly Room at the Court House, the temporary post office annex, and the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan. The Library Headquarters was chosen; the mural is still on display as of September 2015.

Correspondence
Correspondence includes an exchange of letters with Senator Bradley, who returned the album in September 1991. Bradley’s letter to Bob Ferrell of the Monmouth County Historical Commission indicates that the final decision to hang the mural in the library had not been made at that time.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions.

USE

Researchers are able to view original documents of this collection at the Archives. The mural is on display during regular library hours at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters.

REPOSITORY

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771

ACQUISITION INFORMATION

County Clerk Jane G. Clayton transferred the Molly Pitcher Mural Site Selection Album to the Archives in March 1995.

PROCESSING INFORMATION

After acquiring the album, the Archives replaced the pages with archival quality materials, retaining all contents in the original order. A finding aid was created April 4, 1995, and revised by George Joynson on September 25, 2015.

RELATED MATERIAL

For more information about the mural, see:
Gerald S. Foster papers, 1930-1982, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute.
Who Was Who in American Art, page 210.