WPA Mural at Newton High School

 

When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, young men from across the country enlisted to fight in Europe. These men, however, were not the first Americans to fight in the conflict. Americans had been volunteering in the conflict since the start of the War in April 1914, volunteering with European nations like England and France. These American volunteers served as ambulance drivers, machine gunners, pilots, and infantry members for nearly three years, as their government maintained a neutral, isolationist position. When the United States did enter the war, the volunteers joined the ranks of their countrymen and fought until Armistice in November 1918.


Over the course of the war, before the United States’ entry and after, dozens of Newton men volunteered. Many received commissioned statuses and led men into battle. Some received awards as prestigious as the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military award given to members of the Army. Some lost their lives. After the War, all of Newton’s men were commemorated for their sacrifice.


In 1936, Dutch artist Maurice Compris, a member of the Federal Art Project, a New Deal program created to employ artists during the Great Depression, completed the below mural dedicated to Lieutenant Stafford Leighton Brown, a Newton volunteer who died in an aviation accident in France on September 28, 1918. The mural was hung and dedicated in Newton High School on December 2, 1936.


After being removed and put into storage, Compris’s mural was rediscovered when Newton High School was being cleared out for demolition in 2010. After restorations funded by the CPC, the mural was rehung and rededicated in 2017, as part of Newton’s commemorations for the centenary of World War I. Further information about the mural, Maurice Compris, and Newton’s contribution to the War can be found below.

 

The War

Mural Legacy

The Artist & WPA