Original Painting Rediscovered in Ferndale Library Storage Room
An original painting donated to the Ferndale Public Library in 1954 by award-winning author and illustrator Armstrong Sperry was recently rediscovered almost 60 years later by a library board member.
Pat Dengate, a member of the Ferndale Public Library Board of Trustees, was in one of the library's upstairs storage rooms recently when a ragged label caught his eye.
On the label was the name of Armstrong Sperry, an award-winning author and illustrator of children's literature who is best known for his 1941 Newbery Medal-winning book Call It Courage.
"The crudely-made label taped onto the mat said it was by Armstrong Sperry, a name I recognized immediately. When they were young, I'd bought for my children one of his books," Dengate said. "The glass was so filthy, it was hard to be sure at first if it was an original work, instead of a reproduction."
He soon realized what was in front of him.
"This is not only the work of an important author and illustrator from the mid-20th Century, but also an important part of the history of the library," he said.
As it turned out, Sperry donated the painting in 1954 to commemorate the opening of the Ferndale Public Library’s new building. Rediscovered almost 60 years later, it has been re-framed by the library's newly formed Arts and Exhibition Committee and now hangs in the library's Kid’s Corner.
The painting was created as an illustration for The Story of Hiawatha, which was written by Allen Chaffee as a retelling of the famous Longfellow poem.
Published in 1951, The Story of Hiawatha features Sperry’s illustrations throughout and is currently out of print, though two copies remain in circulation at the Ferndale library. The first two pages of the story feature Sperry’s painting.