Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

236 W MAPLE ST

Architecture and History Inventory
236 W MAPLE ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Lancaster Post Office
Other Name:U.S. Post Office
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:45342
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):236 W MAPLE ST
County:Grant
City:Lancaster
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1938
Additions:
Survey Date:1991
Historic Use:post office
Architectural Style:Art Moderne
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:LOUIS A. SIMON
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Lancaster Post Office
National Register Listing Date:10/24/2000 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A VERY SIMPLIFIED EXAMPLE OF ART MRDERNE ARCHITECURE. THE SYMMETRICAL FORM, HORIZONTAL PROPORTIONS AND SMOOTH WALL SURFACES ARE CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES. IT HAS A RECTANGULAR PLAN CONFIGURATION, A FLAT ROOF AND A BRICK AND CONCRETE EXTERIOR WITH LIMESTONE TRIM.

THERE ARE TWO INTENSIVE SURVEYS FOR THIS POST OFFICE, ONE INDICATES THE BUILDING IS A TWO STORY, THE OTHER INDICATES IT HAS ONE STORY. THIS BUILDING WAS FOUND TO BE IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. THE POST OFFICE CONTAINS A MURAL ENTITLED "FARMYARD," WHICH WAS PAINTED BY TOM ROST IN 1940. THE DATE AND THE ARCHITECT ARE INDICATED ON THE CORNERSTONE. THE BUILDING WAS ORIGINALLY OCCUPIED IN JUNE 1939. SEE THE SITE FILE.

ANOTHER SURVEY MAP NAME FOR THIS BUILDING IS "MILWAUKEE DIVISION POST OFFICES," WITH A MAP CODE OF PO-CC. THE PHOTO CODES 14/2-17 ARE PREFIXED BY THE LETTERS "PO."

THIS POST OFFICE BUILDING HAS ITS PUBLIC ENTRANCE/LOBBY ON THE MAPLE STREET FACE. THE ELEVATION IS ORGANIZED SYMMETRICALLY ABOUT THE ENTRY. THE ENTRY DOOR AND WINDOWS ARE RECESSED AND HIGHLIGHTED WITH ENGRAVED LIMESTONE PANELS THE FULL HEIGHT OF THE BUILDING. THERE ARE THREE STYLIZED CARVINGS, ONE ON EACH THE ENTRY WINDOWS AND THE FLANKING WINDOWS. THE WORDS "UNITED STATES POST OFFICE LANCASTER WISCONSIN" ARE ALSO CARVED INTO THESE PANELS. THE REMAINING WINDOWS ARE RECESSED WITH LIMESTONE PANELS BELOW THEM.

THE BUILDING IS CONSTRUCTED OF TAN BRICK ON A CONCRETE BASE WITH LIMESTONE TRIM. THE WINDOWS AND ENTRY DOORS ARE DARK BRONZE ALUMINUM AND ARE NOT ORIGINAL. THE ENTRY STEPS ARE OF GRANITE WITH PAINTED METAL RAILINGS ON EITHER SIDE. THE BUILDING CORNERSTONE NOTES: "HENRY MORGENTHAU, JR., SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, JAMES A. SIMON, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT, NEAL A. MELICK, SUPERVISING ENGINEER, 1938."

THE INTERIOR HAS THE ORIGINAL TERRAZZO FLOOR AND MARBLE WAINSCOT. THE WALLS AND CEILINGS ARE PLASTER. THE BUILDING HAS THE ORIGINAL WOOD TRIM AND VESTIBULE. IT ALSO HAS A MURAL ON ONE WALL OF THE LOBBY. THE BUILDING IS LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE CITY'S DOWNTOWN AREA, APPROXIMATELY ONE BLOCK OFF OF THE COURTHOUSE SQUARE.


ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:
THE LANCASTER POST OFFICE IS OF THE SAME GENERAL DESIGN AS THE LAKE GENEVA POST OFFICE ALTHOUGH MOST OF THE EXTERIOR REMAINS INTACT, THE WINDOWS AND MAIN ENTRY DOORS HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH REFLECTIVE GLASS.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
LANCASTER'S POST OFFICE, BUILT DURING THE NEW DEAL ERA, FEATURES A MURAL BY TOM ROST WHICH WAS COMPLETED UNDER A GOVERNMENT-SUBSIDIZED ART PROGRAM. THE PUBLIC WORKS ART PROJECT (PWAP) WAS "FINANCED BY THE CIVIL WORKS ADMINISTRATION AND ADMINISTERED BY THE TREASURY TO PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT, NOT RELIEF, FOR ARTISTS..." (B). THE PWAP WAS SUCCCEEDED IN 1934 BY THE SECTION OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE AND IN 1938 BY THE SECTION OF FINE ARTS IN THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT. THIS PROGRAM "PROVIDED THE MURALS AND SCULPTURES FOR THE HUNDREDS OF NEW POSTS OFFICES AND COURTHOUSES WHICH WERE BEING ERECTED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT'S SUPERVISORY ARCHITECT AT AN UNPRECEDENTED RATE, NATIONWIDE. APPROXIMATELY ONE PERCENT OF THE CONSTRUCTION COST WAS SET ASIDE FOR THE ARTWORKS AND THE ARTISTS WERE COMOMMISSIONED THROUGH OPEN, ANONYMOUS COMPETITIONS. AN INTERESTED ARTIST HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE SELECTED THROUGH THE QUALITY OF THEIR COMPETITION SKETCHES." (B).

THE MURAL, DISPLAYED OVER THE POSTMASTER'S DOOR, IS ENTITLED "FARMYARD." IT WAS COMPLETED IN 1940 AT A COST OF $800. ARTIST TOM ROST WAS ALSO THE CREATOR OF THE "PIONEER POSTMAN" (1938) LOCATED IN ELKHORN'S POST OFFICE. (B)

ACCORDING TO A SURVEY CONDUCTED BY THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE IN 1982, THE TOM ROST MURAL "SHOULD BE PRESERVED AT ALL COST." (C).

THIS BUILDING IS THE FIRST FEDERALLY-OWNED POST OFFICE IN LANCASTER. PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION OF THIS BUILDING, POSTAL SERVICES WERE CONDUCTED IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS SELECTED BY A SERIES OF LOCAL POSTMASTERS. POSTAL SERVICE IN LANCASTER DATES FROM 1838 AND THE FIRST POSTMASTER WAS GEORGE H. COX. (E). THIS POST OFFICE WAS ONE OF SEVERAL CONSTRUCTED IN WISCONSIN BY THE FEDERAL PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION IN THE 1930S.
Bibliographic References:A. DATE OF CONSTRUCTION - CORNERSTONE. B. WISCONSIN'S NEW DEAL ART (WAUSAU: LEIGH YAWKEY WOODSON ART MUSEUM, 1980), P. 3. C. LETTER FROM U.S. POSTAL SERVICE TO HISTORIC PRESERVATION DIVISION, SEPTEMBER 8, 1982. FILES OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION DIVISION. E. HOLFORD, CASTELLO N., HISTORY OF GRANT COUNTY, WISCONSIN, LANCASTER, 1900. 2005, Timothy F. Heggland. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Courthouse Square Historic District, Lancaster, WI.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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