Charles R. Jonas Federal Building, Charlotte, NC
The Charles R. Jonas Federal Building is a two-story Neo-classical limestone building constructed in 1915 and substantially expanded in 1934. The main elevation (northeast) faces West Trade Street. It features a full-length colonnade, with a projecting central temple front pavilion. On either side of the central pavilion are colonnades divided into eight bays. Massive, monolithic Corinthian columns support an entablature with denticulated cornice. Each of the three entry doors has an elaborate limestone surround featuring fluted engaged pilasters which support a decorative cornice. There are two secondary entrances with decorative limestone surrounds set within the flanking colonnades.
The southeast elevation is the main elevation of the original 1915 building and features two entries, one at either end. The entry doors are set within projecting corner pavilions. The decorative door surrounds feature fluted engaged pilasters which support a classical cornice. Flanking each entry door are original bronze wall-mounted lanterns. The central pavilion of the elevation is expressed as nine bays delineated by engaged Corinthian pilasters. The denticulated cornice and unembellished frieze are present on the southeast, northwest, and northeast.
The northwest elevation reflects the design of the southeast elevation though there are no main entry doors here. The central portion of the facade is divided into nine bays delineated by engaged pilasters. Due to the slope of the site, basement windows are above grade on this elevation. The southwest elevation features a distinctive original copper-clad loading dock.
Significant interior spaces include the main lobby and the ceremonial courtroom on the second floor. The L-shaped lobby, once a Post Office sales area, retains its original marble floors, wainscot, pilasters, light fixtures and ornamental plaster ceiling. The 1930's courtroom features wood panelling and carved door surround. An effort has been made to retain original woodwork in the second floor office spaces.
Transferred to City for land - Fall 2005
The Charles R. Jonas Federal Building in Charlotte, North Carolina derives its significance in three ways: 1) it is located on a site important to the history of Charlotte; 2) it is an excellent example of the Neo-classical Revival style of architecture exhibiting many fine exterior and interior details; 3) it is representative of the Federal presence in Charlotte, and is one of the few historic structures remaining in the Central Business District.
The first branch of the U.S. Mint was built on the northeast section of the site in 1836. Later, in 1891, a Post Office facility
was built on the southwest portion of the site. The space between the two buildings was converted to a park/plaza. In 1913 the Mint functions were discontinued and the 1891 post office building torn down. In 1915 a new Post Office was built on the site of the older one. By 1932 there were threats of demolition of the Mint building. Due to an outcry by the citizens to save the building, the Mint was reconstructed in the Eastover section of Charlotte and converted into North Carolina's first art museum. In 1934 an addition to the original Post Office was completed on the site of the Mint. The addition triples the size of the original and changed the orientation of the main facade and entry of the building to West Trade Street at the southeast.
The Charles R. Jonas Federal Building is an excellent example of the Neo-classical style of architecture with its massive columns forming a colonnade across the main entry. It also exhibits a projecting pavilion at the center of the main elevation with a portico and simple pediment. The secondary elevations are accented by engaged pilasters. The public spaces of the interior are characterized by the use of marble floors and wainscot, and ornamental plaster ceilings. The courtroom is an excellent example of 1930's design with its oak panelling and fluted pilasters.
The site of the Federal building has historically been used for U.S. government buildings. That use continues today as the site of the Jonas Federal Building where the 1915-1934 building remains a symbol of the Federal presence in Charlotte. It is, in fact, the busiest statutory location for holding Federal Court in the Western District of North Carolina. Although the settlement of Charlotte dates from the colonial period, it is very much a symbol of the "new South". It has become one of the nation's most important financial and marketing centers. As a result of this, the Central Business District is now largely given over to commercial enterprises housed in new buildings. Therefore, in addition to representing the Federal government in Charlotte, the Charles R. Jonas Federal Building is one of the few historic structures remaining in the Central Business District.