Commodore Perry at Black Rock
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Commodore Perry at Black Rock, 1969, sgraffito (detail)
Lobby, West Hertel Middle School, Buffalo, NY

The mural, which Prof. Slawinski described as the first sgraffito-al fresco in North America, depicts the historical background of the school (far right of mural) in the village of Black Rock, now a part of Buffalo. During the War of 1812, shipbuilding, salt and a ferry service to Canada shaped the industrial environment of this pioneer school for three races. The life-size figures in the foreground are those of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Shipbuilder Thomas Eckford (center), Perry’s manservant, Hannibal and Eckford’s Chief Clerk. Perry was in Black Rock in the spring of 1813 to acquire five of the nine warships with which he successfully engaged the British in the Battle of Lake Erie and thereby gave the United States control of the Lakes.