United States Post Office and Court House
317 First Street, Wausau, Marathon County
Date of construction: 1937-1938
Architects: Oppenhamer & Obel
Built in 1937-1938, the United States Post Office and Court House is a locally prominent landmark in Wausau. Beset by a series of legislative and bureaucratic delays, the Post Office took eleven years from the time it was proposed until it was completed. Once opened to the public, the building immediately became a central part of the cultural fabric of downtown Wausau. It served as the center for the city’s postal operations, as one of a handful of federal circuit courts in northern Wisconsin, and as the nexus for federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Labor Department and the Internal Revenue Service. Until the Post Office moved from the facility in 1969, it functioned as the most prominent manifestation of the federal government in Wausau.
The Wausau United States Post Office and Court House is a locally noteworthy example of the Art Deco style employed for a public building. Designed by prominent Wausau architects Oppenhamer & Obel, the building is characterized by its relatively simple form, with flat surfaces arranged in a linear, determinedly modernistic pattern that emphasizes verticality. The most noteworthy interior spaces are the postal lobby on the first floor and the courtroom on the second, both of which feature well-executed Art Deco craftsmanship. A notable feature of the lobby is the mural in one of its stairwells, painted by Wisconsin artist Gerrit Van Sinclair.
In 2012, rehabilitation utilizing federal historic tax credit incentives began, converting the building into apartments.