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Artworks: The Signing of the Magna Carta

This large 20' x 20' triptych entitled "The Signing of the Magna Carta" is in the old courtroom on the second floor of Federal Hall. The mural depicts the scene of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, and has the description “Through this Document Government Exists According to Law not Power”. It was funded by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts and painted by Frederick Webb Ross in 1935.

Frederick Webb Ross was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, on March 19, 1885 and attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. After studying art under William Forsyth in Indianapolis, Ross traveled to New York City and its Art Students League. Starting in 1911 Ross toured Europe but in June 1934, he completed  "The Signing of the Magna Carta" in his New York studio, which was then transported to Terre Haute,

Courtroom, Federal Hall - Magna Carta Mural

Installation of The Signing of the Magna Carta, 1935

Installation of "The Signing of the Magna Carta", 1935
Image from Indiana Historical Society

The Magna Carta Room, Courtroom or even plain FD223 in Federal Hall was officially renamed as the Kenneth L. Smith and Theresa Kathryn Klein Smith Magna Carta Courtroom on September 24, 2021. In June 2021, Indiana State alumnus, Dr. Kenneth L. Smith, gave $1 million to the university to honor his late wife and support scholarships in accounting, economics, finance, and history. Smith, who taught economics and finance for 42 years at the university level, met his wife at the University of North Texas. The couple was married for 32 years prior to Theresa’s passing in 2019.

Kenneth and Theresa Smith

Kenneth and Theresa Smith

In recognition of the gift, the Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Kenneth L. Smith and Theresa Kathryn (Klein) Smith Magna Carta Courtroom on the second floor of the Federal Building, home of the Scott College of Business. The space, once a federal courtroom, features a mural depicting the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta. It was painted in 1935. Smith said an elementary school field trip to what was then the Terre Haute Post Office and Federal Building left a lasting impression.

Renaming of the Courtroom

Renaming of the Courtroom

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