Benjamin Franklin Statue at Franklin High School, Portland OR
From 1939 to 1942, Portland’s Franklin High School benefitted from two different Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiatives. The first, in 1939, involved WPA workers’ construction of an athletic field as part of a larger commitment ($468,459) to the improvement of Portland public school properties. The second allowed artists from the Federal Art Project, one of the five independent branches of the Works Progress Administration, to respond to a commission funded by Franklin High School students and alumni ($15,000). Stonecutter George Berry and his assistants sculpted a fifteen feet tall (with pedestal), forty ton sandstone statue of the school’s namesake. In spring 1942, the “Statesman Scientist” was installed at the north entrance of the school overlooking the athletic field. The pedestal includes several built-in benches as well as the quotation from Franklin, “One today is worth two tomorrows.”
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Barker, Neil Louis (1996) “The Works Progress Administration in Portland, Oregon: An Historical Narrative and Survey Report, 1935-1942.” Washington State University: Masters of Arts Thesis in History. Pp. 122. Oregonian (1939) “Work Begins on New Field,” August 15, 1939. Oregonian (1942) “Olden Dream Comes True: School Dedicates Franklin Statue,” May 9, 1942.
Project originally submitted by Judith T Kenny on January 5, 2015.