Paul Findley Federal Building, Springfield, IL

The Paul Findley Federal Building in Springfield, Illinois is located on the north half of a city block bounded by Sixth, Monroe, and Seventh Streets. A wide sidewalk surrounds the building at Sixth and Monroe Streets. Brick paving lines the street edges and contains trees and benches.

The classically-designed federal building has three stories, an attic and a basement. The exterior is surfaced entirely in grey limestone blocks. A limestone entablature located between the second and third floors extends along the north, east, west and portions of the south elevations. Decorative terra cotta cresting tops the limestone elevations of the building.

This building and its site remain primarily unchanged from its original construction. The site contains new surfaces. Minor alterations to the exterior of the building have taken place, including the addition of an accessible ramp at the front and two stair towers at the rear of the building.

The main (north) facade is symmetrical with a long, recessed central portion flanked by two end pavilions. The central portion is made up of thirteen bays separated by fluted Ionic columns which support the entablature. Doric pilasters at the third floor level align with the columns. Each bay at the first and second floor level contains paired metal double-hung windows separated by a decorative cast-iron spandrel. Each bay at the third floor contains a metal double-hung window.

The entrance bays project slightly from the corners of the end pavilions. A pair of Doric pilasters flank a keystone arched opening within each entrance bay. Granite steps lead to the recessed entrance doors within the arch. The entrance doors are metal double doors with glazed openings. The remainder of the arched openings are infilled with glazed transoms. Three small windows are centered above the entrance arch at the second level, and three windows are evenly spaced across the third floor level. The corners of the end pavilions recess and contain a single window at each floor level.

The east and west elevations are mirror images of each other. The northern-most portion of each bay contains four bays separated by Doric pilasters at the first and second floor and pilasters at the third floor. Each bay contains a window at each floor level. The remaining portion of the building recesses slightly from the northern portion. Seven window openings are evenly spaced along each floor level.

The materials and elements of the north, east and west elevations continue to the south ends of the east and west wings. These elevations contain three evenly spaced window openings at each floor level. The limestone surfaces and elements turn the corners at the stairhall additions.

The south side of the building is made up of the east, west and south elevations of the three-story, e-shaped main building. This includes the three-story projecting piece that contains the Courtroom and the one-story mail workroom. The elevations within the e-shaped portion have brick surfaces with simple limestone trim which continues from the limestone elevations. Window openings are spaced along the walls. The south elevation of the projecting piece contains limestone trim at the third story, where the Courtroom is located. Six bays separated by paired limestone pilasters originally contained window openings, but are now blocked with limestone. The mail workroom also has a brick wall surface with limestone trim. Door openings, single and double, are lined along the wall. A metal canopy projects over the mailing platform.

Springfield was founded in 1818. It is the county seat of Sangamon County and became the capital of the state of Illinois in 1837.

The economic base of Springfield is diverse, supported by state government, agriculture, business, industry and tourism. The U.S. Postal Service arrived in Springfield in 1823. Its location changed continuously. In 1856, the U.S. Congress appropriated
$50,000 for a new building for the U.S. Post Office, but the project was put on hold due to the Civil War. In 1863, the appropriation was resurrected, and a federal building housing the U.S. Post Office was begun in 1867. The building was completed in 1869 at Sixth and Monroe Streets, part of the site of the present building. Major additions were constructed but were insufficient. In 1928, an appropriation of $200,000 for the demolition of the existing building and $450,000 for the construction of a new building had been approved. Construction on this building began in 1929 and was completed in late 1930. Construction costs totaled $711,272. The Federal Building was built to house all federal offices, the U.S. Post Office, and the U.S. Courthouse.

The Paul Findley Federal Building was designed by James A. Wetmore, Acting Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Department; construction drawings were completed in November 1928. The general contractor was Murch Brothers of St. Louis, Missouri, and the cornerstone was placed October 17, 1929. In the original design, the post office occupied the entire first floor. The public corridor extended along the north wall, a large mail workroom with two large skylights was in the center portion, and secondary lobbies at the east and west sides provided access to offices. Mechanical and electrical equipment, lounges, and public restrooms were located in the basement. The second floor provided offices for the tax department and prohibition administration. The U.S. Weather Bureau, the Federal District Courtroom, judges' chambers, Federal Marshal's office and jury accommodations were located on the third floor.

The Paul Findley Federal Building is of historical and architectural significance. The building represents an important time in the history of Springfield. The construction drawings were completed in the year before the stock market crash in 1929. The building was completed after the beginning of the Great Depression, and before the construction projects of the New Deal. Therefore, the Paul Findley Federal Building is one of few buildings in Springfield constructed during the 1930's.

The Paul Findley Federal Building is a good example of the federal architecture of this time in Springfield. The design is a combination of the Federalist (or Neoclassical) style (common for post office buildings during the first thirty years of the century), and the Art Deco style (popular for post office buildings in the later 1930's). Examples of the Federalist details include the symmetry of the elevations, cornices, columns, and the terra cotta parapet. However, the design of the columns, pilasters and cornices are more streamlined than typical Federalist post office designs of this era. The simple entrance openings and the lack of window surrounds and grand entrance stairs are signs of the Art Deco influence.

This building is also significant because of the integrity of exterior. The exterior remains primarily intact, carefully maintained and has had few alterations. In 1983, the building was renamed to honor Illinois congressman Paul Findley.

Year
Start
Year
End
Description Architect
1929 1930 Original Construction James A. Wetmore, Act. Super. Arch.
1950 Plumbing Repairs
1953 Interior Remodeling
1954 Installation of Fluorescent Light Fixtures
1956 Improvements to the Loading Dock
1956 Replacement of Copper Roof with Asphalt Shingles
1957 1958 Air Conditioning/Post Office Modernization Project
1959 Installation of New Elevators
1961 Installation of Asphalt Tile Flooring
1962 Replacement of Doors and Dormer Windows
1964 Exterior Cleaning/Interior Painting White National Cleaning Company
1967 Installation of New Boilers Jack Baker Plumbing & Heating
1971 Remodeling for Senator Dixon
1973 1974 First Floor Remodeling Project Davenport Builders
1975 Installation of Handicapped Ramp at Loading Dock
1975 1976 Repairs to Lightwell Balustrade/Coping
1978 1979 Magistrate Courtroom Construction Nile Marriott Construction Company
1986 1987 Installation of Electrical/Fire Detection System
1988 Installation of Handicapped Ramp on North Facade
Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13