Schanker Working on "The Circus"
“While a supervisor, Louis Schanker did several murals for the WPA. A series of 11 murals was done for the TB wards’ dining room […] at the Neponsit Beach Children’s Hospital in Rockaway Queens. The official pictures, taken for the WPA, are available on line from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Some show him working on the murals while others must have been taken at the dedication ceremonies because he is shown wearing uncharacteristically formal attire. In the late 1970’s Schanker checked with the Hospital to see if the murals were still there. The Hospital had been converted into a senior citizens home. The administrator did not know of any pictures, but initiated a search that proved fruitless. In a 1970 interview Schanker said that he was pretty sure that they were removed when the Army used the building for returning servicemen in the late 40’s and early 50’s. When the building was taken over by the HHC in 1983 the images were listed as “missing.””
An image of the project’s WPA label states that the mural series’ title is “The Circus.”
Originally built as a tuberculosis hospital for children in 1918, Neponsit Beach Hospital was expanded in 1938. It was used by the army during WWII, then resumed treating children until 1955. After nearly a decade vacant, it became a nursing home for the next 34 years. After being severely damaged in a storm in 1998, the hospital was evacuated. It has been abandoned ever since.