The application for this designation was prepared by Jan Cunningham, historic preservation consultant, who is working for the and assisting in the renovation of the building for a new Senior/Community Center.
According to Cunningham, the Eckersley-Hall Building, which is owned by the City of Middletown, qualified for state historic listing because of its construction in 1929 and Georgian Revival-style architecture; its significant local historical association as a neighborhood school planned by district parents and citizens; the naming of the building after two Middletown army infantrymen, Fred Hall and Herbert Eckersley, who died in France during WWI; and the interior 5-by-15-foot mural painted by Albert McCutcheon in 1936 for the Federal Art Project and Works Progress Administration.
What sets this mural apart, according to Cunningham, is its artistic style. In the application it states, "Unlike most of the general public art of the period, which rarely considered the intended audience, here McCutcheon's surreal style creates a fantasy land for children. This mural was followed by more conventional murals at Woodrow Wilson High School, in which historic scenes are presented."
Julie Carmelich, State Historian, presented the application to the Historic Preservation Council and recommended their approval. The Council acknowledged the historic importance of the building and voted unanimously to support its listing.
"This state designation will now allow the Building Committee to move forward and apply for state-tax credits that are specific to buildings that are listed on the State Register," Mayor Dan Drew said. "These credits can be used to offset the cost of the project to local taxpayers."
He is hopeful the application for these credits which can amount to 25 percent of the total hard costs, or approximately $990,000, can begin by the Building Committee, and its historic consultant and architects as soon as possible.
Ron Klattenberg, chair of the Building Committee, was excited by the council vote and felt the decision continues to verify that the Eckersley-Hall Building can and will be a huge success for the seniors and residents of Middletown.