Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Visiting the Post Office

postal boxes
Riverton, WY
February 2017

According to the Riverton Museum website, the Riverton Post Office construction started in 1940 and was completed in 1941 as a part of the recovery projects implemented by President Roosevelt during the New Deal act. The purpose of these projects was to put people back to work, and the intent to make projects that would have an enduring contribution to the states and the nation.

Work on the building began in 1938 but was halted in December 1938 due to no available funding from Washington, D.C. Several other setbacks occurred that prevented the construction of the new federal building, namely the preparations of new plans and specifications for the enlarged structure delayed the construction of the building for nine months. In January of 1940 bids were finally opened in Washington, D.C. for contractors.

The Jensen Construction Company won the bid for construction of the Riverton Post Office, submitting the lowest bid of $94,789.00. The Jensen Construction Company also agreed to finishing the project within 300 days from the authorized date to proceed.

Materials used for the construction came from the state of Wyoming as much as possible, and local Riverton contractors were hired on to help with the new construction. A.L. Benshoof company provided plumbing; F. M. Hoffman provided the wiring; and M.J. Gilpatrick excavated the basement. Construction started in May 1940 with the excavation of the basement.

The new federal building’s structure was of modern design and was designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect, Public Buildings Administration, and the Federal Works agency. The new building was to be two stories high, measuring 80’ x 100’ with a full basement. The federal building was modeled to have a stone base, red brick exterior walls, granite trim, stone cornice, and metal windows. The entrance to the building was trimmed with granite, with an eagle above the door. The roof was a flat composition with parapet wall that helped cover the entire building.

Final inspection came on February 12th, 1941.


Post Office mural
painted in 1942 by George Vander Sluis
Riverton, WY
February 2017

One year after the completion of the building, a New Deal artist, George Vander Sluis, painted the mural entitled "Farm Scene." (The bright globe hanging in front of the mural is a lighting fixture.) Sluis painted another mural in Rife, CO which can be seen here.

More information about the various programs of the New Deal can be found on the Living New Deal website. It's fascinating to see the multitude of projects that were completed across the country. Search the site for some New Deal projects in your community. 

one of many banks of postal boxes
in the historic building
February 2017
This historic building still functions as the official post office in Riverton. The second floor is now off limits to the public, but I remember climbing the stairs several times when I was a child. I have vague memories of going into an office on that floor with my Mom, but I can't remember any specifics. 

Does your community have a New Deal project that is still being used or has been preserved?


10 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I went to the link (which is great!) and found that a post office near me was built then and a mural (by Paul Mays) was added, and the post office is still in use. I remember my Dad pointing out a lot of fire towers in Vermont when we would go hiking as being built by the CCC. A fun post - thank you!

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  2. I am not aware of any but where I grew up our post office had boxes like this with the little combinations and I have a replica of one that is a little bank.

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  3. The swimming pool in Artesian (my husband's home town where we lived until a few years ago) was a WPA project and was the 2nd oldest concrete pool in the state. Unfortunately because of lack of lifeguards, the pool closed for good a couple of years ago.

    Those PO boxes brought back some memories! The old PO in my Minnesota hometown had very ornate boxes with dial number combinations. The new PO had boxes with key locks like these. It was my job to pick up our mail and my grandmother's mail on my way home from school every day.

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  4. Cool history Nancy. We have a similar mural in our Bank back in Glenview Illinois. We also have a WPA swimming pool still in use and update in that same town

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  5. What an interesting topic. Out of curiosity, I looked and discovered that the existing public library here in Findlay was a WPA project. I have been in the library with my grand-kids a few times.

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  6. I think mom had one of these in her antique display.

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  7. That is a beautiful mural! I like seeing the old post boxes:)

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  8. Thank you for sharing. As a employee of NZ Post for 18 years I enjoy seeing a little postal history. Those private box doors are so ornate. I'm so glad they are retained.

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  9. I remember seeing post offices like this in other towns, not here though. I love that mural!

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  10. Those postal boxes remind me of the old card catalogs in libraries. Nope, not similar really but I'm guessing the size of the box in front is the size of a card catalog drawer. Is the mural still in good shape?

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