Friday, March 05, 2010

National Postal Museum: Victim of "Modernization"

"James" writes on his Everyday Correspondence blog about visiting the lobby of National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

He points out that,"Originally the main post office serving the District, the museum building was designed in the Beaux Arts style, and was completed in 1914...On one side of the grand hallway are post office boxes, and on the other, mail windows where clerks would receive outgoing mail. And, in the middle of the grand lobby, wonderful, ornate marble counters.

"As it would happen, the lobby area was renovated in the 1950s. According to the docent leading the tour I was on, it had less to do with improving fixtures and increasing efficiency, than because the marble floors and plaster ceiling were held to be "dated," and in dire need of modernization.

"So, in the grand wisdom of our forefathers, the ceiling of the lobby was dropped, the lighting replaced with what look to be fluorescent light bulbs, and, again according to the docent, the marble covered with formica. Below is a picture of the lobby area taken during that (what I call) dark time.

"While all of the original plaster work was destroyed during the modernization process, the lobby area has been restored with very well crafted and sculpted replicas.And, by golly, if you didn't read the placards, and ignored the fact that people were snapping pictures with digital cameras, you might just be able to make yourself believe it was 1914, and you were there to buy a sheet of 3 cent stamps to mail off a bundle of letters."

To read more about James' trip to the NPM, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM