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.
December 24, 2014
The historic post office in Plymouth, Michigan, was sold earlier this year, and now the new owner has announced that the space will be leased to the Westborn Market, which will be opening a specialty grocery store. Westborn is working with state and local officials, including Plymouth's Historic District Commission, to make sure renovations are in keeping with the building's original character. Mark Malcolm said there are plans to apply for the building to be listed with the National Register of Historic places.
The building's lobby includes a four-panel mural, "Plymouth Trail," that was commissioned by the Department of Treasury during the Great Depression. Painted by the Cuban-born Carlos Lopes, who taught at the University of Michigan, it depicts aspects of Plymouth's past. The mural was restored in June by a Chicago art restoration company; the postal service retains ownership of it, and paid for the restoration, but as the building owners, the Malcolms are responsible for preserving it. Read more.
October 25, 2014
Judith Scherr For the Contra Costa Times: Confirming rumors buzzing around City Hall, the U.S. Postal Service told the Contra Costa Times that the historic downtown Berkeley Post Office is "under contract but not yet sold." An email from the city attorney Thursday to the City Council -- leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet -- sets out a process for an eventual lawsuit against the Postal Service. USPS spokesman James Wigdel declined to name a potential buyer or to talk about what steps remain before a sale is concluded. USPS formally put the 100-year-old building at 2000 Allston Way up for sale in July 2013, drawing loud protests from many in the community. Read more. There's a related story, including a copy of Cowan's letter, in Berkleyside here.
October 25, 2014
The historic post office in York, Pennsylvania, was sold to developer George Sacarello for $350,000. The sale was controversial because in 2012, City Council members and several city officials voiced concern because he owed thousands in back property taxes and back sewer and refuse fees. Now Sacarello is all paid up, and he's working on the post office makeover. He doesn't want to make many changes to the site itself, and has instead spent his energy and nine months of time salvaging the history that's already there because, he says, the building is one that is quintessentially York. "It's been imprinted on peoples' minds for 100 years," he said. Read more.