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Mural by John A. MacQuarrie

“BREAKING GROUND AT SACRAMENTO, JANUARY 8, 1863 FOR TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD”

As part of the Sacramento Depot restoration and redevelopment in the Railyards, a mural by artist John A. MacQuarrie has been conserved.  The delicate cleaning and restoration process got underway on April 13, 2015. The restoration is part of the a $30 million rehabilitation of the 4th and I Streets structure by its owner, the City of Sacramento and Rudolph and Sletten, a Silicon Valley-based contractor. The New York based firm of Evergreen Architectural Arts has restored the mural, cleaning it, repainting some parts of it and reattaching peeled seams. Preservationists started by cleaning several test spots on the mural, allowing the artwork's original colors to show. 

The mural was painted in the late 1920's (completed by 1930) and depicts the groundbreaking ceremony on January 8, 1863 for the first Transcontinental Railroad. While the mural is not part of the Arts Commission's public art collection, the building that contains the mural is part of a development project through the City of Sacramento. The Arts Commission oversaw the restoration of the mural. Read the article in The Sacramento Bee.  

MacQuarrie mural before restoration

John A. MacQuarrie (1871-1944) was a mural painter and sculptor, a lifelong resident of San Francisco. He painted murals in Southern Pacific Terminals and Grand Central Station (Houston, TX) from 1909-1940. 

John MacQuarrie mural
Above: Detail from historical photograph of newly installed mural, c. 1926-30.  Courtesy of Page and Turnbull, Inc.

 

John MacQuarrie mural
Above: Artist's study for the Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Depot mural.  Courtesy of the G. J. "Chris" Graves Collection (Source: http://cprr.org/Museum/First_Rail_Laid_1863.html).

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Sacramento Valley Station was constructed in 1926 as the Sacramento depot for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Designed by San Francisco architects Bliss and Faville in the Renaissance Revival style, the building’s brick façade is punctuated by monumental arched steel windows and accented with a terra cotta cornice. The interior Waiting Room is a 40-foot high lobby illuminated by chandeliers and wall sconces, surmounted by an integral-color plaster barrel vault ceiling with painted stencil accents. Faux stone walls are offset by travertine door surrounds, chair railing, and base trim, in addition to Philippine mahogany woodwork and marble floors. By 1930, a mural painted by artist John A. MacQuarrie was installed at the east wall. The mural depicts the groundbreaking ceremony on January 8, 1863 in Sacramento for the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Ownership of the building transferred to the Union Pacific Railroad, and it became an Amtrak station in 1971. The station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The depot continues to serve as an Amtrak station, and currently is part of an infill development project through the City of Sacramento, which includes the adjacent Southern Pacific Railyards.

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