Shipment of the First Iron Produced in Russellville, by Conrad A. Albrizzio
A Section of Fine Arts fresco entitled “Shipment of the First Iron Produced in Russellville” was painted for the Russellville, Alabama post office in 1938 by Conrad A. Albrizzio.
“The mural for Russellville turned out to be one of the most controversial in Alabama. Albrizzio submitted two sketches of local industry shortly after he was invited to undertake the commission. The Section office chose the scene of a local quarry over that of an early iron mine. The Section apparently made their decision in early July 1937 and by the end of the month they had received numerous telegrams in protest from Russellville clubs and business concerns. The local population proposed a slightly different theme of the old Alabama Iron Works, the first iron furnace in Alabama, built in 1817. Similar letters were also sent from Alabama to Senator John H. Bankhead, Jr., in Washington. One of the letters described the general theme and the details the Russellville businessmen wished to have included: “We know the beehive shape of all charcoal furnaces erected at the date. We know that the furnace and forge were motivated by water power through a race that still exists. We know they used a five hundred pound hammer to shape the pig–we have the hammer. We know the ore was collected by slave labor and hauled in ox carts to the furnace. We know the pig iron, much of it, was hauled by ox wagon thirty-five miles to the Tennessee River and shipped to Liverpool, England, and we have the records where it was sold at one hundred dollars a ton. The rock wall foundation of the warehouse still stands along the creek bank.” After a series of letters between Albrizzio, Bankhead, the citizens of Russellville, and the Section, Albrizzio redesigned to the wishes of the local population and eventually went to Russellville and painted the mural in fresco on the walls of the post office.”
Project originally submitted by The Living New Deal on October 6, 2012.
Additional contributions by Tom Parker.
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