Exterior overdoors at entrance to Bell System exhibit Banner ?>

New York 1939 World's Fair: AT&T Building

Flushing, NY

Exterior overdoors at entrance to Bell System exhibit

Telephone Lineman and Switchboard Operator, 1939

Commissioned by: Voorhees, Walker, Foley & SmithMedium: painted low-relief gesso on metalExecuted by: RambuschNonextant

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World's Fair 1940 showing location of the AT&T Building

For the entrance to the Bell System Exhibit in the AT&T Building, Meière designed overdoors fifty feet tall, using warm Art Deco colors. On the left door she depicted a telephone lineman; on the right, a telephone operator. Each figure is twenty-five feet high1: The gold color Meière used for the figures and telephone wires coordinates with that of the circular brass motifs at the base of the design.

AT&T Building, overdoors filmed by Hildreth Meière, 1939. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

The scale of Meière’s design can be seen in a black and white photograph showing a man in the foreground and another entering the building:

Telephone Lineman and Switchboard Operator

Telephone Lineman and Switchboard Operator

Meière wrote:

...the scale demanded by the really tremendous size of the buildings was in itself a problem which few if any of us mural painters had ever had to face. I drew a head ten feet high. I drew a doctor thirty feet tall, and the height of my “Linesman” on the Telephone Building is twenty-five feet. Sixteen-foot figures, twelve-foot figures, ten-foot figures, I drew them all and enjoyed it, feeling that the life-sized figures, of which there are thirty-five in one frieze, were practically miniatures.2
AT&T Building showing overdoors at entrance to Bell System exhibit

AT&T Building showing overdoors at entrance to Bell System exhibit

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 187-91.

2

Hildreth Meière, “Working for a World’s Fair,” Journal of the Associated Alumnae of the Sacred Heart 4 (1939-40): 37.