Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

215 N WALNUT ST

Architecture and History Inventory
215 N WALNUT ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Reedsburg Post Office (U.S. Post Office)
Other Name:Reedsburg Post Office
Contributing:
Reference Number:46641
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):215 N WALNUT ST
County:Sauk
City:Reedsburg
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1937
Additions:
Survey Date:1995
Historic Use:post office
Architectural Style:Georgian Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:Louis SimonMelick, Neal
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Reedsburg 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 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. THE P IN THE PHOTO CODES IS SHORT FOR PO. ANOTHER MAP CODE FOR THIS BUILDING IS PO-R.

THIS POST OFFICE IS BUILT FROM THE SAME SET OF PLANS AS THE RICHLAND CENTER POST OFICE, ALTHOUGH THE ONE IN RICHLAND CENTER IS MORE HIGHLY ORNAMETED.

THE ORIGINAL BUILDER WAS DEAN ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION CO. OF MINNEAPOLIS.

THE BUILDING IS A SIMPLE EXAMPLE OF THE GEORGIAN REVIVAL STYLE. THE PLAN IS RECTANGULAR WITH THE PUBLIC ENTRANCE/LOBBY ON THE WALNUT STREET FACE. THE ELEVATION IS ORGANIZED SYMMETRICALLY ABOUT THE ENTRY. THE BUILDING IS CONSTRUCTED OF RED BRICK WITH A PAINTED STONE TRIM. THE ENTRY IS HIGHLIGHTED WITH FLUTED WOOD COLUMS SUPPORTING A WOOD DENTICULATED CORNICE. THE DOOR AND STORM WINDOWS ARE NEW. THE WINDOWS ARE DOUBLE HUNG WITH A 15 OVER 15 PANE CONFIGURATION. THERE ARE PAINTED STONE PANELS BELOW THE WINDOWS. THE ENTRY STAIRS ARE GRANITE WITH PAINTED METAL RAILINGS. THE STRUCTURE IS IN GOOD CONDITION. THE CORNERSTONE NOTES: "HENRY MORGENTHAU, JR., SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, JAMES A. FARLEY, POSTMASTER GENERAL, LOUIS A. SIMON, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT, NEAL A. MELICK, SUPERVISING ENGINEER, 1937."

THE INTERIOR HAS A TERRAZZO FLOOR AND MARBLE WAINSCOT THAT ARE ORIGINAL. THE WALLS AND CEILING ARE PLASTER. THERE IS A DENTICULATED COVE MOLDING AT THE CEILING. THE WOOD TRIM AND VESTIBULE ARE ALSO ORIGINAL. THE BUILDING, WHICH IS IN GOOD CONDITION, IS LOCATED IN THE CITY'S BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL DISTRICT.

ARCHITECTURAL STATEMENT:
15/15 WINDOWS WITH STONE SILLS AND STONE PANELS BELOW; FLAT BRICK ARCH HEADS WITH STONE KEYSTONES; RED BRICK WITH AMERICAN COMMON BOND PATTERN; PEDIMENTED ENTRY WITH DENTILS AND ARCHED GLASS ON CORNICE; INTERIOR HAS DENTIL PATTERN CORNICE; VESITBULE ENTRY.

A NEWSPAPER DESCRIPTION OF THE BUILDING MENTIONS GRANITE STEPS WITH AN IRON RAILING THAT LEADS TO THE ENTRY. THIS IS FLANKED BY TWO LAMPS ON THE WALL. WOODWORK IS WALNUT IN THE SERVICE AREA AND ASH IN THE WORK AREA. THERE WAS MARBLE WAINSCOTING AND TERRAZO FLOOR. WINDOWS HAD COPPER SCREENING AND WIRE GRATES THAT COULD LOCK. VENETIAN BLINDS WERE IN THE LOBBY AND SLATTED SHADES IN THE WORK AREA (GONE)(2).

THE POSTMASTER'S OFFICE IS IN THE NORTH. TODAY THE MAIN ENTRY HAS A PLATE GLASS DOOR INSTEAD OF A WOOD ONE AND SOME INTERIOR WORKROOM CHANGES HAVE OCCURRED A WPA MURAL IS ON THE WALL OVER THE ENTRY TO THE POSTMASTER'S OFFICE (SK9/15. IT WAS PAINTED IN 1940 BY RICHARD JANSEN (IT WAS NOT PAINTED DIRECTLY ON THE WALL- FINE ARTS)(3). THE BUILDING HAS RETAINED MOST OF ITS INTEGRITY (SK9/14, 215 NORTH WALNUT STREET).

ARCHITECTURAL/ENGINEERING SIGNIFICANCE:

THIS POST OFFICE IS A SIMPLIFIED EXAMPLE OF THE GEORGIAN REVIVAL STYLE WHICH IS VERY MUCH INTACT. ALL THE ORIGINAL ELEMENTS OF THIS COMPOSITION REMAIN AS DESIGNED.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

THIS BUILDING IS THE FIRST FEDERALLY-OWNED POST OFFICE IN REEDSBURG. PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION OF THIS BUILDING, POSTAL SERVICES WERE CONDUCTED IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS SELECTED BY A SERIES OF LOCAL POSTMASTERS. POSTAL SERVICE IN REEDSBURG DATES FROM 1849 AND THE FIRST POSTMASTER WAS HORACE CROSSWELL. (SEE BIB. REF. B).

THIS POST OFFICE WAS ONE OF SEVERAL CONSTRUCTED IN WISCONSIN BY THE FEDERAL PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION IN THE 1930S. THERE IS A MURAL IN THE LOBBY OF THE BUILDING.

A 12 x 6' CANVAS MURAL ON THE NORTH LOBBY WALL, ENTITLED "DAIRY FARM," WAS PAINTED BY RICHARD JANSEN IN 1940 AND FUNDED BY THE WPA. THE MURAL DEPICTS A FARMER LOADING MILK CANS ON A TRUCK WITH A DAIRY BARN AND COWS IN THE BACKGROUND. JANSEN DID A SIZABLE NUMBER OF WPA ART WORKS IN WISCONSIN IN VARIOUS MEDIA INCLUDING A SILK SCREEN PRINT, OVER TWO DOZEN GOUACHES AND NUMEROUS WATERCOLORS, MOST OF WHICH WERE LOANED OR ALLOCATED TO PUBLIC MUSEUMS, COLLEGES, AND LIBRARIES.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
LAVINIA REED WAS THE ORIGINAL, IF UNOFFICIAL, POSTMASTER OF REEDSBURG IN THE 1840S. ON JULY 14, 1849 THE CITY OFFICIALLY BECAME "REEDSBURGH" FOR POSTAL PURPOSES. HORACE CROSSWELL WAS THE POSTMASTER. MAIL CAME FROM BARABOO. FROM AUGUST 15, 1849 TO JUNE 30, 1850, A.C. REED CONTRACTED TO DELIVER MAIL ONCE A WEEK FROM BARABOO. A.H. CLARK'S STAGE COACH DELIVERY BEGAN IN 1854. A SIX TIMES PER WEEK SERVICE FROM KILBOURN (WISCONSIN DELLS) WAS BEGUN IN 1857 FOR PEOPLE AND MAIL. SERVICE TO MINERAL POINT BEGAN IN 1860. WHEN THE RAILROAD CAME IN 1872, IT TOOK OVER MOST OF THE MAIL DELIVERY BETWEEN CITIES. ON MAY 29, 1894 THE NAME OF THE POST OFFICE WAS CHANGED TO "REEDSBURG".

UNTIL THE PRESENT POST OFFICE WAS BUILT IN 1937-38, MANY BUSINESS BUILDINGS ON MAIN STREET WERE USED. THE FIRST OFFICE WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE LOG CABIN SHANTIES AND THE NEXT SITE WAS SOMEWHERE ON THE EAST SIDE OF MARKET STREET. IN LATE 1885 THE POST OFFICE WAS IN MRS. HUNT'S MILLINERY STORE ON THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF MARKET STREET AND MAIN STREET. AFTER A FIRE IN 1886 THE BUILDING WAS REBUILT, WITH A SPOT FOR THE POST OFFICE (SK45/24, 296 MAIN STREET). BY 1890 THE POST OFFICE HAD MOVED INTO THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF THE FREE PRESS BLOCK, ONE DOOR WEST (SK8/14, 272 MAIN STREET). IN 1896 IT WAS ON THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE MASON'S BUILDING ON THE NORTH SIDE OF MAIN STREET (SK45/33, 201 WEST MAIN STREET - CENTRAL PART). IN 1898 IT MOVED ACROSS THE STREET TO 236 MAIN STREET (SK8/16). IN 1924 IT WAS BACK AT 296 MAIN STREET.

A POST OFFICE BUILDING HAD BEEN DESIRED SINCE 1911 BUT WAS NOT APPROVED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT UNTIL JUNE, 1936. THE SCHWEKE PROPERTY AT THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF WALNUT STREET AND SECOND STREET WAS ACQUIRED BY COMDEMNATION FOR THE NEW BUILDING. THE JUNE 26, 1936 "REEDSBURG FREE PRESS" NOTED THAT THE BUILDING WOULD PROBABLY LOOK LIKE OTHER U.S. POST OFFICES CONSTRUCTED AT SIMILAR COSTS. A PICTURE OF THE OFFICE AT RICHLAND CENTER SHOW A SIMILARILY STYLED BUILDING (1). LOUIS A. SIMON WAS THE SUPERVISING ARCHITECT AND NEAL A. MELICK, THE SUPERVISING ENGINEER FOR THE U.S. POST OFFICE AT THIS TIME.

THE BUILDING IS 62' X 70'. IT IS CONSTRUCTED OF RED BRICK WITH STONE TRIM, AND IS PLACED 10' BACK FROM THE SIDEWALK. THE SITE AND BUILDING WERE ALLOTTED $70,200. DEAN CONSTRUCTION OF MINNEAPOLIS WAS GIVEN THE CONTRACT WITH THEIR LOW BID OF $50,779 (4). THE COST ROSE TO $75,000 AND LATER DIMENSIONS WERE GIVEN AS 60' X 62' WITH A 25' X 18' REAR SECTION. IT WAS BUILT ON A SANDY LOAM FOUNDATION (LIKE MUCH OF MAIN STREET) BY LOCAL LABOR. JOHN BROWN OF FARIBAULT, MINNESOTA WAS THE FOREMAN. WHEN THE BUILDING WAS CONSTRUCTED, LOUIS SCHULTZ WAS POSTMASTER.
Bibliographic References:A. DATE OF CONSTRUCTION - CORNERSTONE. B. KRUG, MERTON EDWIN, "HISTORY OF REEDSBURG AND THE UPPER BARABOO VALLEY," MADISON, 1929, P. 185. C. Reedsburg Times June 26, 1936, p. 8. D. Box 6, MMs 1, U.S. W.P.A.- Federal Arts Project- Wisconsin, Archives, State Historical Society. E. Reedsburg Times July 17, 1936, p.1 F. Reedsburg Times March 12, 1937, p.1 G. Reedsburg Times March 11, 1938, p.1 H. Reedsburg Times March 18, 1936, p.1 I. Reedsburg Times October 6, 1938, p.1 J. Reedsburg Times October 13, 1938, p.1 K. Reedsburg Free Press, June 26, 1936 L. Reedsburg Free Press, March 11, 1938 M. Reedsburg Free Press, March 12, 1937 1- "REEDSBURG FREE PRESS", JUNE 26, 1936. 2- "REEDSBURG FREE PRESS", MARCH 11, 1938. 3- JACK CLOSSEY, POSTMASTER, MARCH, 1984. 4- "REEDSBURG FREE PRESS", MARCH 12, 1937.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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