A New Tool for Exploring America's Historic Post Offices

By Brian Turner posted 10-29-2018 16:04

  

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to announce the publication of a digital tool that shares stories of how America’s post offices have been adapted for community-serving uses. “SOLD: America's Historic Post Offices” is a GIS-enabled story map that documents 20 historic post office buildings from coast to coast that have been offered for sale. Buildings are categorized across five themes: whether they have retained postal services after transfer, were transferred with deed restrictions, have sparked advocacy campaigns, feature New Deal artworks, and have been adaptively reused to serve community functions. See a broad overview followed by the full map (also embedded below) or go right to the map and start reading stories.

historicpostoffice_LOC_Knoxville.jpg
Post Office in Knoxville, Tennessee | Credit: Detroit Publishing Company, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection

The National Trust included historic post office buildings on our annual list of 2012 America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. We subsequently designed a National Treasures campaign with the objective of becoming a leading source of information about protecting historic post office buildings as the United States Postal Service (USPS) optimizes its operations. We have worked closely with agency staff, advocates, political leaders, developers, and partner organizations to improve outcomes whenever the USPS makes the consequential decision to sell its historic real estate. The story map is a culmination of what we have learned over the course of that campaign.

Rather than an exhaustive list of historic post office sales, the story map offers a snapshot of different outcomes based on the five themes with links to documentation that will be useful for concerned locals, creative developers, and everyone in between. We anticipate that this tool will generate collaboration to ensure the survival of a unique part of American history, empowering local advocates and inspiring responsible developers to honor the community-serving purposes of post office buildings across the country.

SOLD: America's Historic Post Offices

 

Historic US Post Offices: 20 Case Studies

Brian Turner is senior field officer and public lands attorney at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


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Comments

10-30-2018 22:12

Great project and an important subject.

The downtown post office in Evansville, IN was a very early example of a building adapted to new uses (retail and offices).  It was listed on the NRHP in 1971, and I think the redevelopment dates from the late 1970s or 1980s. 

Am surprised it's not on anyone's radar for a project like this.  I will say that I am certain no historic covenants, etc. were part of the original sale.  Thankfully at least the exterior is intact, and some of the interior details have been retained. 

History of the Old Post Office Event Center

10-30-2018 16:29

Great job! This such a good resource for understanding an extremely complicated issue. With over 1000 post offices just with interior artwork, divestment and the feasibility of reuse are going to be recurring issues across the nation. Hopefully, this helps communities (and preservationists) understand what some of their options are.