Maude R. Toulson Federal Building and U.S Post Office, Salisbury, MD

The following description of the exterior and interior of the building has been obtained largely from the National Register Nomination papers prepared by A.D. Marble and Company in 2007 and the Maryland Historic Trust State Historic Sites Inventory Form prepared by Paul B. Touart in 1999:

The Maude R. Toulson Federal Building (or the Toulson Federal Building) occupies a 0.53-acre site on the north side of East Main Street in Salisbury, Maryland. The building is bounded by East Main Street to the south, Baptist Street to the east, and Court Street to the north and west. It has an area of 24,780 square feet.

The building exhibits elements of the Colonial Revival style of architecture popular to federal buildings in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The building reflects many of the characteristic features of this style including a rectilinear footprint, symmetrical facade, roof-line balustrade, and classically detailed eaves, and door surrounds.

Although the building was built in two distinct phases with the original rectangular one-story structure being completed in 1925 followed by the addition of side wings, a rear ell and a second story in 1936, the even coloration, consistent brickwork and a continuation of key details across all the elevations conceals this fact well and the building reads as one.

The Toulson Federal Building sits atop a full, elevated, brick foundation. Red brick, laid in English bond with cast-stone trim, covers the exterior of the building. A cast-stone and brick water table, which serves as the lintels for the basement windows, rests above the foundation, and a cast-stone beltcourse, inlaid with a Greek Revival key pattern, sits below the second-story windows. An entablature below the parapet, comprised of cast stone, consists of a flat frieze and a denticulated cornice. The words "United States Post Office" are carved into the frieze on the south (front) elevation. A cast-stone balustrade consisting of eleven balusters on the south elevation and five balusters on the north, east, and west elevations lies within the parapet with coping at the top. A flat sheet membrane roof caps the building.

Four-light, hopper-sash, wooden windows, protected with iron security bars, are located at the basement level of the south elevation. Evenly spaced, twelve-over-twelve light, double-hung sash, wooden windows comprise the first-story fenestration of the building. Eight-over-twelve light, double-hung sash, wooden windows comprise the second story, except where noted. A wood molding surrounds each window, which sits upon a cast-stone sill.

The south (front) elevation contains nine evenly spaced bays divided into three, three-bay sections. The center section projects approximately one foot outward from the plane of the end sections. Three recessed arches interspersed with four cast-stone floral medallions also enhance the center section. An elevated double stair, encased in red brick, leads to a poured-concrete landing centrally located on the south elevation. An iron railing featuring integral iron lampposts frames the stair. The poured-concrete landing provides access to the main entry into the building, which is centrally located on the facade. Fluted columns and a wood entablature frame the entry. An arched fanlight is situated above the entablature. The entry consists of a set of double-leaf, six-light, replacement wood doors capped by a transom comprised of six arched lights. A bronze plaque located immediately to the east of the entry contains raised lettering that reads, "MAUDE R. TOULSON FEDERAL BUILDING."
A dedication stone for the original 1924 building is set into the brick-clad foundation at the eastern end of the facade. The following is carved into the stone:

A W MELLON
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
JAMES A WETMORE
ACTING SUPERVISING ARCHITECT
1924
A dedication stone for the 1936 addition is set into the foundation to the east of the 1924 dedication stone. The stone reads:

HENRY MORGENTHAU JR
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
JAMES A FARLEY
POSTMASTER GENERAL
LOUIS A SIMON
SUPERVISING ARCHITECT
NEAL A MELICK
SUPERVISING ENGINEER
1936

Four evenly spaced bays comprise the east elevation of the front block, as well as the east elevation of the rear ell. The second story windows of the rear ell consist of eight-over-eight light, double-hung sash, wooden, replacement types. A two-story, iron, fire escape leads to a single-leaf, steel, fire door situated in the southernmost bay of the second story of the rear ell.
The north (rear) elevation contains five unevenly spaced bays on the front block to the east of the rear ell. The westernmost bay on the second story contains a single-leaf steel fire door accessed by the aforementioned fire escape. A single-leaf, steel, fire door provides access to the ground level of the fire escape, which is surrounded by a steel-mesh cage. The first story of the front block contains two eight-over-eight light, double-hung sash, wood windows. The second story consists of two evenly spaced, eight-over-twelve light, double-hung sash, wood windows.

The north elevation of the rear ell contains six unevenly spaced bays. A poured-concrete ramp, encased in red brick and framed by a steel-pipe railing, leads from a rear parking area to a secondary entry centrally located in the elevation. A storefront aluminum door and ramp were added circa 1987 in order to make the building compliant with Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABAAS) regulations. An exterior stairway to the basement level consisting of twelve poured-concrete steps and surrounded by a steel-pipe railing extends the remaining width of the north elevation to the west of the ABAAS-compliant ramp. The northwest corner of the elevation, supported by a square brick pier, is open to accommodate a recessed loading dock. Two six-over-six light, double-hung sash, wood windows are located slightly to the east above the open bay. The second story of the rear ell consists of eight-over-eight light, double-hung sash, wood windows.

The west elevation of the front block contains four evenly spaced bays. The exterior entry into the USPO occupies the southernmost bay. An iron railing with integral iron lampposts frames the eight granite steps that lead to the entry. The entry consists of a set of double-leaf, six-light, wood, replacement doors. A wood triangular pediment caps the wood pilasters that frame the entry, which features a transom consisting of five arched lights. A bronze plaque is located immediately to the south of the entry and reads, "MAUDE R. TOULSON FEDERAL BUILDING."

The west elevation of the rear ell contains a concrete loading dock, supported by brick piers and sheltered by a flat, wood-framed canopy with a sheet membrane covering. Two sets of double-leaf, one-light, steel doors are centrally located in the first story. A single eight-over-eight light, double-hung sash, wood window is located to the south of the doors. Five evenly spaced, six-over-six light, double-hung sash, wood windows are located directly above the loading dock canopy. Five evenly spaced windows of the same type also occupy the second story of the rear ell.

The functions of the first floor of the Toulson Federal Building are split between the USPO, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and the regional offices for the U.S. Senator.

The Public Lobby and Postal Lobby feature a cream-colored terrazzo floor inlaid with a black-colored terrazzo border. The plaster walls feature sand-colored terra cotta tile wainscoting outlined with a black terra cotta tile chair rail. A plaster cornice outlines a plaster ceiling. The ceiling in the public lobby is vaulted. Original wood and glass directories and bulletin boards are displayed in both the public and postal lobbies. Both the Public Lobby and Postal Lobby feature large oil on canvas murals painted in 1939 by Jacob Getlar Smith. The murals portray scenes from local history. The postal lobby features an elaborate wood and glass entry vestibule. The north and south sides of the vestibule contain single-leaf, six-light over two-panel doors, each featuring three brass handle bars. The east wall of the vestibule contains a nine-light over three-panel section flanked to the north and south by a six-light over one-panel section. The Postal Lobby features original brass-and-glass postal boxes and pendant brass light fixtures. The light fixtures have white globes decorated with a stenciled geometric design. The Public Lobby also features three original pendant fixtures but the globes have been replaced. The first floor lobbies have radiators underneath each window. Each radiator is contained in a decorative oak-and-iron radiator box added in 2003.
The west wall of the Public Lobby features an oak partition, which, in 2003, replaced the previous glass and aluminum partition. The partition separates the public lobby from the Downtown Branch of the Salisbury USPO.
A set of double-leaf, oak, replacement doors is situated in the east wall of the Public Lobby. These doors provide access to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland occupies the southeast corner of the Toulson Federal Building. The space was altered substantially in 2003 to accommodate the transfer of the courtroom from the second floor to the first floor of the building. The courtroom features industrial carpeting, drywall partitions and posts, and a dropped ceiling comprised of acoustical tiles and containing inset fluorescent lighting. The southern portion of the courtroom contains a plaster ceiling featuring replacement, hanging pendant light fixtures. All of the furniture, including the oak benches, tables, and judge's bench, were added in 2003. Oak paneling covers the north wall of the courtroom behind the judge's bench. A metal plaque featuring the Great Seal of the United States encircled by the words, "United States District Court for the District of Maryland," hangs on the wood paneling.

The east wall of the Postal Lobby also contains a single-leaf, steel, security door that provides interior access to the Post Office Workroom. Wood floor boards cover the floor of the cavernous area. Tongue and groove wood wainscoting and plaster cover the walls. The room features a dropped ceiling comprised of acoustical tiles and troffer style fluorescent light fixtures. An original steel safe occupies the northwest corner of the room.

The Mailing Vestibule, adjoining the Post Office Work Room provides access to the Loading Dock. This space features wood floors, plaster ceiling, double-leaf steel doors with bumpers and wire glass lites, wire mesh partitions, and exposed brick walls.
An aluminum and glass storefront partition and double-leaf doors separates the Public Lobby from the first floor corridor that stretches all the way to the north end of the building. At the north end of the first floor corridor is the secondary handicap accessible employee entrance in the building. To the west of the corridor is the Post Office Work Room and to the east are government offices. The corridor features vinyl tile flooring and vinyl wall base, gypsum wall board partitions and dropped ceiling comprised of acoustical tiles and troffer style fluorescent light fixtures. The doors leading from the corridor into the offices and rest rooms on the east side are one- lite, flush wood doors with natural finish. The offices on the east side of the first floor are highly altered and include industrial carpeting, gypsum wall board partitions, and dropped, acoustical-tile ceilings with inset fluorescent lighting.

The stairwell that provides additional access to the basement level and sole access to the mezzanine level occupies a room in the northwest corner of the corridor. The room is entered through a single-leaf, pane-and-panel wood door and features vinyl tile flooring. The staircase to the mezzanine level consists of wooden steps, wooden balustrade and a plain, paneled, newel post. The stairs leading to the basement is concrete with cement finish. A steel-pipe railing serves as the handrail to the basement level. An original, pendant, light fixture, suspended from a metal chain, lights the stairwell.

The basement consists of ten rooms currently used as storage and office space for the building management. The southern section of the basement encompasses the original portion built in 1925. The 1936 extensions include unexcavated crawl space to the east, west, and north of the original block with the exception of the coal and boiler rooms added to the northwest.

The basement level is accessed by either the stairway off of the central corridor at the north end of the building or the stairway located off of the Post Office Lobby at the south side of the building. The wooden steps of the south stairway are covered in carpeting.

The basement level generally lacks finishes and detailing. The rooms consist of poured-concrete floors, brick, concrete or plaster walls, and plaster ceilings. The southern three rooms, located to the west of the corridor, have been finished with wood baseboard and plaster to accommodate additional office space.

The stairwell off of the central corridor that provides access to the basement also provides access to the mezzanine level, which is currently vacant. The mezzanine contains a former swing room and restroom for postal employees. The roof features finished oak strip flooring. Painted plaster covers the walls and ceiling. A wood, white-painted, chair rail and baseboard surrounds the room. The entrance into the former lookout gallery is located in the southwest corner of the room. The restroom is clad in hexagonal ceramic tiles on the floor and square ceramic tile wainscoting on the east, west, and north walls. White-colored marble panels cover the south wall and enclose a stall shower. The bathroom retains the original 1936 fixtures and marble partitions between water closets.

A single staircase off of the Public Lobby provides access to the second floor level. The staircase features a decorative wrought iron balustrade and newel post, all capped by a polished-oak handrail. This staircase leads to a second-floor landing and provides the only access to the second floor of the building. Two one-light, steel, replacement doors are located on the north and west walls of the second-floor landing.

The second floor of the Toulson Federal Building has been vacant since 2003 when the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland relocated to the first floor. The southern and eastern portions of the second floor largely consist of small offices each featuring replacement carpeting laid over unfinished pine floors, plaster walls with wood baseboard and chair rail, and dropped, acoustical-tile ceilings with troffer style fluorescent lighting, except where noted.

The former courtroom for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland occupies the rear ell portion of the second floor. The courtroom features an oak judge's bench made in the 1970s by the Wicomico County High School technical education class. Nineteen individual, collapsing-seat, wood chairs, each affixed to the floor with an iron base, are located to the south of the bench behind a simple oak balustrade.

The former office for the U.S. Postmaster, which contains the most original architectural detail and finishes of any other second floor space, is located on the south west side of the second floor. The room features a wood floor, plaster walls with wood baseboard, chair rail and picture molding, and a plaster ceiling. A narrow single-leaf, paneled steel door located in the west wall of the room provides an additional entry into the former lookout gallery. A porcelain sink is attached to the wall to the south of the door. A single-leaf, paneled wood door leads into a small restroom that occupies the southwest corner of the room. The restroom features a hexagonal ceramic-tiled floor and original 1936 fixtures.

The following information has been obtained from the National Register Nomination papers prepared by A.D. Marble and Company in 2007:

Significance Evaluation

The Maude R. Toulson Federal Building (Toulson Federal Building), located along East Main Street, Salisbury, Maryland, is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A at the local level in the areas of community planning and development and politics/government for its local significance as Salisbury's first permanent post office building and as a symbol of the federal presence in the city. Additionally, the building embodies the ideals of the federal building campaign carried out by the Public Works Administration under the directions of Acting Supervising Architect James A. Wetmore (1912-1913 and 1915-1934) followed by Supervising Architect Louis A. Simon (1935-1941).

Community Planning and Development
The Toulson Federal Building represents an important period of growth, prosperity, and optimism in the history of Salisbury. The building was perceived as a symbol of community pride and its placement adjacent to the courthouse along the prominent East Main Street supports this sentiment. Salisbury's first permanent post office building illustrates a period of growth and optimism in Salisbury's history as the area grew from a small port town into the largest city on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The consequential commercial and civic growth that followed the expansion of Main Street in the early twentieth century ushered in an influx of new community members in Salisbury. Thus, this growth necessitated the construction of a permanent post office building large enough to accommodate postal patrons from throughout the growing city.

Politics/Government
The Toulson Federal Building was the first permanent post office erected in Salisbury after over 135 years of temporary locations. The permanence of the building embodies the perceived growth of Salisbury in the early twentieth century. The Toulson Federal Building demonstrates elements of the federal building campaign carried forth under the Public Works Administration and into the Great Depression. The incorporation of classical elements expresses the sense of a federal permanence and presence in the community. On the interior, the Toulson Federal Building prominently displays three murals typically found in federal buildings constructed during the Murals Program (1934-1943); Jacob Getlar Smith painted The Stage at Byrd's Tavern, The Cotton Patch, and Salisbury Town in 1939 as part of the Fine Arts Program. These murals were commissioned by the Salisbury Historical Society and the federal government in order to display the regionalism and history of the area. Finally, the post office was the first federal building erected in Salisbury. As a result, the building was perceived as a symbol of civic pride, and its placement on the prominent thoroughfare of East Main Street supports this sentiment.

Integrity
The Toulson Federal Building retains a high degree of integrity. The building has only minor alterations to the exterior, the majority of which are located on the north (rear) elevation to accommodate ADA and fire-safety regulations. The building also has undergone interior alterations, including new interior finishes such as industrial carpeting, acoustic-tile drop ceilings, and inset fluorescent lighting. The building contains a large, circa-1936 addition, but this substantial addition was always compatible with the original 1925 block and thus, has achieved significance. Therefore, the Toulson Federal Building retains integrity of design, materials, and workmanship. In addition, the building retains its original location; however, the immediate area around the building has been developed and now contains large multi-story commercial and government edifices. Therefore, the federal building does not retain integrity of setting. Despite the interior renovations to the southeast corner of the building in 2003, the federal building retains its overall monumentality as a governmental entity, all of which contribute to integrity of association. The buildings retention of integrity of design, materials, workmanship, location, and association results in the buildings retention of feeling as an early twentieth-century federal building erected in the Colonial Revival architectural style."

The Toulson building is considered to be a "contributing" building in an historic district of downtown Salisbury, Maryland. The district is potentially eligible because of its significance as a retail and governmental center. This district has not been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1/25/91, but, according to Maryland SHPO staff it has been "determined to be eligible" for listing. It is a "Certified Local District" for purposes of the Federal Tax Incentives program. All Section106 provisions apply.

Year
Start
Year
End
Description Architect
1917 The Fed Gov't appropriated $80,000 for the building of a P.O. in Salisbury.
1917 The land for the P.O. was purchased by the Fed Gov't.
1924 Senate approved an additional $25,000 to erect a permanent post office.
1924 1924 Cornerstone laid on 18 June 1924 Wetmore, James A.
1924 1925 Original one-story, 5 bay brick building completed. Building opens Nov 1925 Wetmore, James A.
1936 Two additional bays on each side (24'), 40' rear ell and 2nd flr addition Simon, Louis A.
1939 The U.S. Treasury Dept Fine Arts Div commissioned 3 murals for the bldg Smith, Jacob Getlar
1969 Renovations to convert parts of first floor Post Office space into offices Neumayer, David A.
1969 The main entry door vestibule removed from the public lobby. Neumayer, David A.
1969 Aluminum & glass partition installed between lobby & offices Neumayer, David A.
1969 Fire escape added at rear of building. Neumayer, David A.
1980 Repoint brick, replace N roof, install carpeting
1984 Name was changed to Maude R. Toulson Federal Building
1987 A one-light, aluminum door and a ADA ramp was added on the north side GSA
1989 Suspended acoustical clg in some 2nd flr areas
1991 Aluminum storefront door installed at main entrance.
2002 Partial window restoration completed. John Milner Architects
2002 Window removed and a door installed to provide access to the light court. RMF Engineering Inc
2002 South and West aluminum entry doors replaced with wood.
2003 2006 Renovation of the eastern wing of the 1st flr for the Maryland U.S.D.C. RMF Engineering, Inc
Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13