Supporters attended a rally for preservation of Santa Monica's landmark post office building, which closed Saturday, June 29th, 2013, by order of the U.S. Postal Service, which plans to sell it. The Santa Monica Conservancy's news release says the focus must now be on preservation of the building and protection of its character-defining features, so we don't lose yet another historic Downtown building. I've included the Conservancy's website address, the web address for the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission, and the Conservancy's new release below:
Join us for a rally at 11 AM on Saturday, June 29 to show your support for preservation of our downtown Post Office! Meet us at the Fifth Street Post Office on its last day of operation at this convenient and very historic location. The Conservancy strongly supports an appropriate new use of the structure, but we are very concerned that the Post Office is closing without any formal protection for its character-defining features. We share the community’s disappointment over the loss of the convenience of the Fifth Street location, but now we must focus on putting the needed protections in place or we could lose yet another important, iconic downtown building.
To learn more about our concerns about protection of the Post Office see below.
Protecting the Post Office: In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation was so concerned about the lack of protection for the historic Post Offices that it named them to its annual list of endangered historic places. As soon as the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would sell the historic Fifth Street building a year ago, the Conservancy and others began advocating for the preservation of the building. Built by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Moderne building with Art Deco appointments opened with great fanfare in July 1938.
Every historic preservation consultant who has looked at the building considers it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The Post Office qualifies as a Santa Monica Landmark as one of three WPA buildings in the City, and is distinguished by its Art Deco-inspired features including the beautifully detailed paneling and the original lighting fixtures of the lobby. The cities of Glendale, Southgate and Santa Barbara have landmarked their post offices,but that has not happened in Santa Monica.
The Postal Service has proposed a protective covenant describing the important features of the building. Under Federal law, it must identify the entity which will preserve and protect the property by enforcing the covenant before the Post Office can be sold.
“The current draft of the covenant leaves out important character-defining features like the 1937 plaque commemorating the building’s dedication, and could be weakened further in the sale negotiations if the City is not proactive. It is important to ensure local control over the building’s future. The Landmarks Commission must better define the attributes of the building listed in the covenant and the City should agree accept enforcement responsibility,” notes Carol Lemlein, Conservancy President. ”We cannot wait until after the Post Office passes into private hands and then landmark it. This process takes time, during which unacceptable alterations could be made to the building. And once the Post Office is closed, the lobby is no longer a public space and the Commission loses its ability to protect the important interior features.”
The protection of the Post Office building is expected to be on the July 8 Landmarks Commission agenda, which should be posted on the City website by Friday July 5. Thank you for your support!
Santa Monica Conservancy
PO BOX 653
Santa Monica, CA 90406
Contact Name: Santa Monica Conservancy
Telephone Number: (310) 496-3146
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