Lewis F. Powell, Jr. U.S. Courthouse Annex, Richmond, VA
The exterior facades retain, almost totally intact, their original Modernistic (also known as Art Deco style) limestone facing and incised ornamental detailing, windows and trim. Alterations have occurred at the Main Street entrances. All original doors have been replaced, two of which have been replaced by windows with new limestone blocks under the sills. Handicap accessibility ramps, handrails and automatic doors were all part of the 1973 remodeling project, but the essential character and design elements remain intact. Characteristic of the Art Deco style are the low relief (frequently incised) geometric designs, often in the form of parallel straight lines, zigzags, chevrons and stylized floral motifs. Variations exist in the detailing of the Main Street facade. The incised, stylized carvings of eagles, shields and stars on the Annex Building reflect the Federal ownership. More common to the style are the flutes at the sides of the deeply recessed doors, the carved vertical lines and frets in the wide stone band that encircles the building between the first and second floors, and the continuous, graceful scroll band across the heads of the fifth floor windows facing Main Street. The 4 bronze wall sconces along Main Street are also designed in the manner of the Art Deco style. The interiors were almost entirely altered in the 1973 remodeling work following the relocation of the Post Office services. Shortly after 1936 a bridge was constructed from the Courthouse to the Annex, linking the two second floors. In 1973 the bridge was demolished and a new one was erected connecting the two third floors. The architectural firm of Gaudreau from Baltimore, Maryland, is presently completing massive changes on the interior wiping away remnants of the 1973 remodeling. The great generator for these changes lies in the character and needs of the court systems which require continual expansion. Among the significant changes are the creation of new court rooms, refurbishing and restoration of all the wood windows and the installation of a fire sprinkler system on floors 2 through 5. The stair wells, stair railings, treads and risers, the elevator shafts and a vault door in the basement comprise the only existing remnants from the original 1936 period.
Contributing structure in Main Street Banking Historic District (National Register District).
The Courthouse Annex in Richmond, Virginia appears not to have been officially accepted as eligible for the National Register but certainly the State Preservation Officer of Virginia thinks that it is eligible. For the purposes of this report, the building will be considered over 50 years old and rated 5 until final paperwork is accepted, at which time it would be rated as a 3. The building's significance is clearly limited to the City of Richmond. Its importance lies in the exterior as an example of the Modernistic (Art Deco) style and its location in a proposed Historic District next to the US Courthouse. The juxtaposition to the U.S. Courthouse highlights the differences between the attitudes that effectively delineated the form of each building. While the U.S. Courthouse Building evolved over a period of many years with great continuity of design, the Annex was a sharp reaction to existing revival styles. Having the Courthouse, the Annex, the cast iron buildings across the street and the Jefferson Capitol Building to the north in close proximity to the contemporary highrise office buildings literally creates a quilt of architectural styles that tell their own story. The Annex building was built in 1935 as an adjunct to the older Federal Building to the west across 11th Street. The four-story building, with a three story wing extending east along Bank Street, was originally called the Parcel Post Annex even though the upper floors were given over to other Federal agencies. Later, two more stories were added to the four-story section making that portion six stories high. Since the Post Office moved to its new main office on Brook Road in 1970, the interior functions and office spaces that are utilized presently, are devoted to the needs of the judicial system with interiors greatly altered from those of the Post Office.