Peters' WPA Murals Today
Carl W. Peters once said "If they're good murals done by good men, they'll stay on the wall." Regarding his own murals, this quote has held true. Out of the original fourteen murals that Carl Peters painted under the Federal Arts Project, thirteen of these still remain. The mural that is now considered lost is the 1941 mural "Science and Humanity," which originally adorned the walls of the Rochester Academy of Medicine. His only mural done outside of the WPA, the 1930 mural for the Genesee Valley Trust Company, is also lost: it is believed to be buried under drywall in the original building. As for the rest of Carl Peters' WPA murals, they have faired much better than the aforementioned two murals. In fact, these murals have been so important to their communities that in several cases, they have been moved and funds have been raised to preserve them just to ensure that they wouldn't be destroyed.
Active Life and Contemplative Life in Joseph C. Wilson Foundation Academy
Carl Peters' first two murals, Active Life and Contemplative Life, were originally located in Madison High School. However, the school was destroyed in the 1980s, threatening the murals that hung in the school auditorium. However, Peters' murals were very important to the school community, so they were taken down and stored with the idea that they would be put up in a new school when the opportunity presented itself. Before the murals were put up in their new home at Joseph C. Wilson Foundation Academy, they underwent thorough conservation and restoration due to money raised through a foundation in memory of Thomas H. Miller, who had been a pupil and friend of Carl Peters. This helped ensure that the murals would be in good enough condition to last another century on the walls of the new school.
The Early Days of the Erie Canal in the Fairport Historical Museum
"The Early Days of the Erie Canal" remains one the walls of the building that it was originally erected in, but the function of the building itself has changed. The Fairport Library outgrew the small, WPA-era building, and by 1978 the library moved to its current site on South Main Street. However, the original libary building was preserved,and is still owned by the Village of Fairport. The historical significance of both the building itself and the mural inside of it led it to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, and the building is very well preserved. Today, it is used by the Perinton Historical Society as their Fairport History Museum, and the location of their collections and archives. Carl Peters' mural is the perfect accessory for this building now that it is used by the historical society, because its beauty combined with its historical value makes it an eye catching destination for people who are new to the town. It also provides the perfect opportunity to inform newcomers about Carl Peters, and his importance to the town of Fairport. The museum has a whole corner devoted to Peters- they also have a painting of his that belongs to the Town of Fairport on display, as well as several photographs, and biographical write-ups.
Indian Allen and White Woman of the Genesee at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School
The murals of West High School, much like those in Madison, also moved after West High School was torn down. Today, the murals Indian Allen and White Woman of the Genesee are in Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, right down the street from the Madison High murals in Wilson Foundation. Not as much has been recorded about the transfer of these murals, but much like Active Life and Contemplative Life, we can conclude that these murals must have been important to the original school in order for them to be preserved after the demolition of West High School.
The History of the Lake Ontario Region at Northeast College Preparatory High School
Finally, Peters's mammoth set of eight murals for Charlotte High School also remain on their original walls. Though Charlotte High closed in 2016, the building still stands and now houses a preparatory school. Though these murals still stand tall, a story published in the Democrat & Chronicle in 2014 describes a story of how the murals were almost lost in the 1990s. According to an English teacher from Charlotte High, he noticed some commotion in the auditorium one morning, and when he went to check it out, he saw that workers were preparing to spray paint the recently scraped and patched walls. Fearing that the murals were also about to be repainted, he asked if there was a plan to save the murals during the painting of the auditorium. The workers, though they had not received any instructions to save the murals, were directed by a supervisor to check out the situation, and this is likely what saved Carl Peters' 1942 murals from destruction.