The U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Wichita, Kansas, now referred to as the U.S. Courthouse, is located on the north side of Third Street, between Main Street on the west side and Market Street on the east. The multi-story, limestone-clad building occupies almost the entire site, with the exception of the parking area at the rear (north) of the site.
The site was originally a number of residential lots, with an alley dividing the site in half from north to south. There is a slight slope, with the lowest elevation at the northeast corner. A concrete sidewalk and grass strip extend along the east, south, and west elevations. The flagpole is located in the center of the planting strip on the south. At the east and west end of the south facade are main entrances to what was originally the post office lobby, with granite steps that lead up to the entrance and extend across nearly the entire face of each corner tower.
The north side of the site provides all on-site parking. Originally used as a loading and unloading area for the U.S. Post Office, the dock remains with parking spaces in front.
The building is 224 feet by 157 feet and is in the style referred to as "Starved Classical" that characterizes federal buildings of that era. The building is generally three levels in height, with a fourth level across the long dimension, and a fifth level at the towers of the east and west corners. The portion of the building originally housing the postal workroom is one story in height, with a mezzanine level above one-half of the postal workroom. The portion housing the original courtrooms has the height of a three-story structure, due to the interior height of the ceilings. The structural system is steel and concrete, clad with sanded buff and light beige Bedford limestone. The building blocks are 21-1/2 inches by up to 42 inches with light colored mortar. With the exception of a few areas of carved ornamentation, the detailing of the building is quite simple.
All windows are in slightly recessed planes, making the stone divisions between windows appear as pilasters, an effect which is reinforced by simple carved ornamentation in the position of the pilaster capital. The cornice line of the main structure is plain, but emphasized with heavier limestone blocks. The main entrance has heavy molded surrounds, ornamental reveals, and shelf heads. Above the shelf are two winged limestone lions holding a plaque. The original cast bronze-framed transoms remain, but the original cast bronze doors have been replaced by bright metal ones.
Each tower has a fifth level which is set back from the main tower face. A carved ornamental band in a winged bird motif is centered between the window heads and the cornice line. The cornice line is ornamented similarly to the cornice of the tower corners, but is much less elaborate.
The north facade is broken up into different levels and is visually more complex than the other facades although it is recognizable as the back of the building. From this aspect, the entire structure appears as a U-shape with two-story infill, and towers at each end of the "U".
The building has a flat single ply roof with parapet at all levels. All skylights have been covered over with standing seam metal roofing material, but the structures remain intact. The original elevator penthouses are located above the fifth level roof.
While the basement of the courthouse is almost square, the building is laid out in a squared "U" shape. At the first level, there are four entrances, one at each outside corner of the east and west towers. At the second, third, and fourth levels, the courtrooms, court support facilities, and offices open onto the cross corridor. Wing corridors divide the east and west wing offices. At the second level, the center of the "U" is partially filled by the District Courtroom and the Appellate Courtroom above it. These courtrooms have high ceilings and fill in the space between the second and fourth level roofs. The fifth level of the east and west towers is office space.
At the south elevation, there are two vestibules which are clad in Kasota Cream marble with Tennessee Ross Mahogany marble base. The floors are of a square-and-rectangle pattern made from Oriental and Roseal marbles. The inside doors are hollow bronze set in a wrought bronze and glass panel framework. The entire framework is topped by a cast bronze cornice and four cast bronze eagles. The floor of the lobby is marble of several types, predominantly Napoleon Grey banded by Republic Pink. Patterned bands are made up of Oriental and Roseal.
The ceiling is coffered plaster with egg-and-dart molding and a star pattern inside the coffers. On the east and west end walls of the lobby hang two murals which were painted by the winners of a Department of the Treasury-sponsored competition in 1935.
There are two staircases leading from the first level lobby to the second level Elevator Lobby. The stair wraps around the back of the elevator shaft, with plaster walls and Kasota Cream wainscot. Stair treads and platforms are of Napoleon Grey marble, with risers and stringers of Tennessee Ross Mahogany marble. The handrails are cast bronze, and where the rails pass across the window, bronze grillework fills the area between the rail and the treads. The details of all the stair levels are the same except above the fourth level leading to the tower offices and penthouses.
The second level is the same as the first, except the District Courtroom fills in only a portion of the "U" building plan. The walls of the primary corridors are clad in Kasota Cream marble from base to cornice. Door trim is Kasota marble, and bases are Tennessee Ross Mahogany marble. The doors are American walnut with obscured glass lights, except for the courtroom doors, which are two pairs of double walnut panel doors with oval lights. The ceilings are of highly ornamented, coffered plaster, as is the elaborate cornice.
The third level is the same as the second level, except the detailing is much simpler. The upper portion of the second level District Courtroom takes up a large portion of the third level, with the Petit Jury Room, a toilet, and stairs also located at the third level.
The fourth level changes substantially from those of the lower levels. At this level there are no wing corridors. All offices, the Appellate Courtroom, and the library open off the cross corridor.
The fifth level floors are two unconnected towers at the southeast and southwest corners of the building. Each is reached by one of the end staircases or elevators. The stairs do not wrap around the elevator shaft at this level, but land at stair halls onto which the elevators also open.
The exterior of the courthouse is generally intact and in excellent condition. With the exception of the addition of the mechanical equipment housings there have been no major alterations. Dropped ceilings and modern lighting fixtures have been installed, many of the office floors have been covered with tile or carpeting, and partitions have been added or removed. In spite of these changes, the most impressive spaces with the grandest materials remain intact. Examples of these spaces are the lobbies, corridors, courtrooms, and court offices.