Forum Journal (Summer 2013) Iconic Urban Buildings - Post Offices


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This slide show is enhanced content for the Summer 2013 Forum Journal (Preservation in the City). To learn more about Preservation Leadership Forum and how you can become a member visit:

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Forum Journal (Summer 2013) Iconic Urban Buildings - Post Offices

  1. 1. Post OfficesEnhanced Content:Iconic Urban Buildings
  2. 2. Post offices are threatened with closure incities across the country. The fate of thesehistoric post office buildings is unclear asthey are left vacant or sold to new owners.Many of the challenges stem from long-termlogistic and financial problems at the UnitedStates Postal Service (USPS), such as:• A projected $18 billion annual debt faced byUSPS resulting in part from a congressionalmandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits.• Decline in the volume of first-class mail aselectronic communications become muchmore prevalent.• The high staffing and overhead costsneeded to maintain a retail presence(selling stamps, postage, mailing materials,PO boxes, etc.).• The increasing automation in theprocessing and distribution of mail thatcannot be accommodated easily in olderfacilities.• Maintenance and other costs associatedwith the ownership of large number ofbuildings in prominent (and high-value)locations in cities.Local groups in Berkeley and La Jolla, Calif. are working to savetheir post office buildings. The Berkeley Post Office wasconstructed in 1915 (above), La Jolla Main Post Office in 1935(below). Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation.Challenges
  3. 3. Left: The 30th Street Main Post Office (1935) in Philadelphia, Pa., was renovated for an office building in2012. Read full story here and here. Photo: Barry HalkinRight: The Beverly Hills Post Office (1933) in Beverly Hills, Calif., will open as the Wallis AnnenbergCenter for Performing Arts in fall 2013. Read the full story here. A video with the SPF: Architects’description of the project can be viewed here. Photo: Historic Resources Group“The post office was ‘the one concrete link between every community of individuals and theFederal government’ that functioned importantly in the human structure of the community....[The post office] brought to the locality a symbol of government efficiency, permanence,service, and even culture.”– Marlene Park and Gerald Markowitz, Democratic Vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press,Philadelphia, 1984Case Studies
  4. 4. National Trust for HistoricPreservation’s Saving Placeshistoric post office buildingscampaign.Save the Post Office, most currentsite about the status of post officesaround the countryNational Association ofPostmasters of the United States(NAPUS) Preservation ToolkitElaine Stiles, “Right-Sizing theMail: Advocating to Retain orReuse Historic Post Offices,”Forum Bulletin, August 15, 2011.Old Chelsea Station, New York, N.Y. (1935). Sale announcedJanuary 14, 2013: Photo: By Beyond My Ken, via WikimediaCommons.The CBRE website lists all USPS properties for sale Resources