Murals depicting old Oxford at library Jan. 11

A couple of vintage murals depicting a nostalgic view of the community’s past will be on display during a grand opening event at the Oxford Public Library on Friday, Jan. 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Painted by renowned local artist Barbara Wilson Benetti (1914-88), the murals provide a glimpse of Oxford life as it was in the 1930s and 1940s.

They usually hang in downtown’s Northeast Oakland Historical Museum, but they’re on loan to the library thanks to a partnership between the two institutions. The large murals, painted in 1938, will be on display at the library through mid-February.

A Flint native who was educated at the Flint Institute of Arts, Benetti was hired to paint the murals under the Federal Art Project (FAP),  part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) – later renamed the Work Projects Administration – a New Deal program that ran from 1935-43 under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The WPA was a program designed to put unemployed Americans back to work during the Great Depression. As part of it, many artists, writers, actors and musicians were hired under FAP to provide the public access to the arts and humanities.

Influenced by famed artist Diego Rivera, whose murals adorn the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Benetti’s murals of old Oxford originally hung in the Washington Street School, the former site of which is now occupied by Fire Station #1.

During the Jan. 11 event, there will be live music and finger foods. Some of Benetti’s family members are slated to attend and give a brief talk about her. To RSVP, visit or call (248) 628-3034.