Historic Post Offices


Napa post office, cracked by earthquake, tops threatened buildings list

June 28, 2015

Fissured, battered and fenced off since the magnitude-6.0 quake of Aug. 24, the downtown Napa post office leads off the annual Ten Threatened Treasures, the list of at-risk properties released last week by the Napa County Landmarks group .A lack of clarity from the Postal Service about the building’s future – and a fear the agency may choose demolition as the easy way out – is what makes the post office the site of greatest concern, Landmarks members said last week.

“The Postal Service has not yet been forthcoming on what they plan on doing with it,” said Juliana Inman, a board member, architect and Napa councilwoman. “We are watching (the situation) very carefully, and we’re very concerned. Historic post offices are at risk all over the country, and the post office is selling them as fast as they can.  “These were built with public resources,” she said. “They are public-serving buildings. And the safeguards to ensure they’re preserved are not always forthcoming.”  Read more.

Sale of historic Palo Alto post office moves forward

May 22, 2015

The Postal Service has taken another step toward selling the historic 1932 post office on Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto, California.  On May 28, there will be a public meeting to discuss the relocation of retail services.  Dean Cameron, USPS real estate specialist Dean Cameron says, ""If the Postal Service decides to move forward with its relocation, it anticipates offering the post office property for sale after completing a separate process to take into account the effects, if any, of the sale on historic properties."  In May 2013, the Palo Alto City Council authorized the City Manager to make a bid for the building, and the city continues to be interested in buying it.  Read more.

Postal Services moves forward on sale of historic Plant City post office

March 25, 2015

In late January 2015, the Postal Service discontinued the post office in Plant City, Florida.  As reported in this previous post, it was the first discontinuance in over 16 months.  The community had until Feb. 27 to file an appeal with the Postal Regulatory Commission, but no one did so, and now the Postal Service is reviewing the property for sale.  There's little doubt how the review will end.  The Postal Service has been planning to sell the building at least since June 2013, when the post office was closed for an emergency suspension due to a leaky roof and some mold — not unusual conditions for a post office built in 1935, especially when the owner (the Postal Service) doesn't bother with upkeep.  Read more.

Section 106, Protective Covenants, and Sale of Historic Post Offices

February 10, 2015

In her introduction to the 2012 Forum Journal on Section 106, National Trust president Stephanie Meeks notes that Section 106 requires federal agencies to “stop, look and listen” before jeopardizing historic resources. This valuable tool has saved thousands of historic sites across the country. But it only works as long as all players—preservationists and federal agencies—clearly understand Section 106 and their role in the process. As we approach the 50-year mark of the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act and Section 106, the Preservation Leadership Forum has enlisted the help of preservation practitioners to take a close look at how Section 106 has worked over the past five decades. Here Steve Hutkins, professor at New York University and editor of “Save the Post Office” website, talks about recent problems with the disposal of historic post offices and the use of covenants and Section 106 to protect these buildings.  Read more.

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