WYANDOTTE, Mich. (WXYZ) — At Wyandotte Roosevelt High School, conservator Becca Goodman from Goodman Lafon is on a mission to restore 81-year-old murals on the school's auditorium balcony.
"Restoration is a process. They can be more sensitive. You just have to go slower and the size of these are a bit of an obstacle," said Goodman.
The five oil on canvas murals are 12x12 in size and were created by two artists, Henry Roberts and Walter Speck.
"They've cracked a little bit, there is bulging, there is also water damage from the roof," said Goodman.
Alana Paluszewski is the district historian and one of the folks leading the $95,000 fundraising initiative to restore these murals.
"They are a national treasure. They're rare now and not too many are left in the country," said Paluszewski.
In 1941, the Wyandotte Public School District commissioned twelve murals from the Federal Works Progress Administration. However, funding was pulled from the program due to the impending threat of WWII. But, in the spring of 1942, the five completed paintings were installed.
"They do belong to the federal government, so we are caretakers of the murals," said Paluszewski.
This means, that if these New Deal-era arts were ever to be removed, the school would need to get Congress's approval.
"What kind of murals were supposed to be in the remaining seven spaces?" asked 7 Action News.
"I understand from old newspaper reports, that they had one for sure that was going to be the discovery of Wyandotte for the French explorers and there was going to be one for an old ship coming around the corner and seeing Wyandotte," said Paluszewski.
As for the current ones, on the west wall, the murals show steelmaking, shipbuilding, and chemical industries. While, on the east wall, the focus is on logging and maple sugaring.
"Besides being rare, they are showing the history of this community and region. So, bring your kids. Come to the plays. Teach your kids. That's what such form of art is for," said Paluszewski.
Goodman has finished restoring the two murals by Henry Roberts and is hoping to complete the Walter Speck murals over the next three months.
In the meantime, Paluszewski is still looking for funding. To learn more and contribute to the project, email RHSmurals@gmail.com.