U.S. Courthouse (Veach-Baley Federal Complex), Asheville, NC

The US Post Office and Courthouse building was built in 1929. The building is currently occupied by the U.S. Courthouse and other government agencies, including Social Security Administration, the U.S. Forestry Commission, the U.S. Attourney, the U.S. Marshalls, the FBI and others. Post and Otis streets define two edges of the 1.3 acre site on which the building sits in the Central Business District of Asheville, North Carolina. An excavated site is being developed to the South. Pay parking is provided to the North of Post street in addition to 50 reserved spaces provided to the West of the building. Other utilitarian functions such as loading docks for deliveries are also provided at the rear (West) of the building. Landscaping is minimal. Miscellaneous trees and shrubs are planted along thin strips of grass that separate the building from the sidewalk edges.

This modernistic building is six stories and, in general, is in excellent condition. Three floors of limestone ashlar veneer rise from a pale gray granite base that wraps around the building exterior at the basement level. A continuous limestone band decorates the wall surface below 3rd floor windows. The limestone walls are decorated above the main entrance with stone relief panels depicting the development of law, agriculture and the postal service. Other limestone carvings of Art Deco influence decorate the upper portions of projecting bays and entrances. Limestone balconies of pierced design also decorate the main entrance portico on Otis street. Two very large ornamental bronze flood light projectors sit on granite cheeks flanking the main entrance stairs. The bowl containing the flood light is supported by a post and three legs detailed in a natte pattern. Each leg forms a lion's paw where it rests on a pedestal base. The low hip roof of standing seam copper is set back several feet from the building edge making it barely visible from the street. The hip roof design, in addition to the use of numerous flat roof areas at projecting bays, gives the building its blocky rectilinear appearance - a characteristic typical of Federal Architecture of this period.

The interior the building is generally organized about a corridor that circulates near the building edges. The upper floors are smaller due to the odd arrangement of building masses and set backs constructed on the West side of the building. Stairs are located along the corridor at the North and South end of the building. Much of the interior spaces have been renovated including dropped ceilings and carpeted floors in offices. However, much of the original detailing remains in many areas, and several areas are almost entirely original. Original materials are evident throughout most corridors, stairs, entrance lobbies, original restrooms and in the district courtroom and library. Some of these original materials include terrazzo floors with marble borders, marble wainscot, plaster walls and ceilings, original stained panel wood doors with molded trim and wood chair rails. A stenciled plaster trabeated ceiling decorates the East and North entrance lobby, a feature replicated in the District Courtroom but no longer visible due to the installation of acoustical ceiling tiles.

Despite the installation of carpeting, acoustical ceiling tiles and new metal partitions throughout the building, many of the office spaces have retained original features whenever possible, including molded base boards, panel wood doors and trim, and plaster walls.

The Building is a massive public building which is prominent in the Central Business District of Asheville, NC. It is an example of modernistic style, inspired in part by the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrielles Modernes. It is significant as a stylistic example, in nearly original condition on the exterior, and as a symbol of the Federal presence in Asheville.

It is listed as a contributing building of the Downtown Asheville Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.

Description Architect
1930 Original Construction Wetmore, James A., Sup. Architect
Last Reviewed: 2021-09-21