Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Grand Junction, CO

The Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (Aspinall FB-CT) is a three-story plus basement Italian Renaissance Revival style building situated one block north of Main Street on the southwest corner of Rood Avenue and N. 4th Streets in Grand Junction, Colorado. Constructed of steel and concrete with a Indiana limestone ashlar faade and parapet balustrade, the building is located approximately one block from the central commercial thoroughfare of Grand Junction encompassing approximately one-fourth of city Block 96. Constructed from 1915-1918, originally measuring 80-8 x 89-10 the building was extended 45-10 in width in 1940. The building stands as a notable federal building in downtown Grand Junction. The site is distinguished from the surrounding areas by its traditional landscaping along both street frontages that features a bluegrass lawn, ornamental trees, and a prominent corner flagpole. The east and north portions of the site are paved parking for the buildings visitors and tenants. The original 1915 drawings, designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department, Oscar Wenderoth depict a two story parapeted structure, but drawings dated 1916 designed by James A. Wetmore, Acting Supervisory Architect, indicate an additional third story, which exists today. Originally designed as a U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, the building was constructed between 1916 and 1918 with a U-shaped plan at the 2nd and 3rd floors above the first floor, and is entirely clad in Indiana limestone. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the building incorporates many features on this style including: a mix of arcaded and rectangular window fenestration to reinforce the horizontality, a balustraded parapet, a flat, symmetrical faade, three stories in height, and masonry wall construction. A defining element, the Aspinall FB-CT has decorative pilasters (adorned with castings of eagles at the capital) that separate the arched windows of the first floor on the west, south and east facades. A major addition occurred in 1940 when the structure was increased to the east 45-10 which displaced the symmetry of the main facade. The addition also changed the overall shape of the building from its original U-shape to rectangular. In order to accommodate the new extension, the south elevation was remodeled to recenter the main entrance and window locations, which included deconstructing and rebuilding the wide granite entrance steps. At the addition extension, the south and east facades are clad with limestone that matches the 1918 original construction. The rear faade at the 1940s addition is clad with light colored Denver faced brick installed in the common bond pattern. The 1940s addition also significantly altered the rear faade. Similar to the south elevation, the extension altered the symmetry of the rear elevation. In addition to the building extension, an accessible ramp was installed at the rear elevation which extends from the original rear door eastward to the buildings end. Currently, the three-story limestone-faced steel structure is rectangular in plan with a second and third floor light court in the rear. The facades of the building are divided in a classic three-part composition. The projecting base of smooth ashlar limestone is capped with a simple angular water table and pierced with basement windows protected by wrought iron bars. The arched first floor windows with sidelights and the broad granite steps are the dominant features of the two primary facades that face Rood Avenue and 4th Street. The horizontal articulation is continued with an extended belt course and frieze that separates the second from the third story windows. The building is capped with a classically proportioned balustrade that extends on all four facades. The main facade is the south elevation, which is divided into twelve bays. The first level is arcaded with wood windows and doors filling the stone arches that are supported by carved capitals on engaged columns. The main entry occurs at the center two arches which have broad granite steps relocated from their original location. Concrete cheek walls with cast metal lamp standards flank the steps. The granite steps were reconfigured in 2012 to accommodate a granite faced concrete accessibility ramp to the west of the steps, with a bronze handrail and painted steel guardrails that simulate the historical rails. The blind corner pavilions have a projecting rusticated engaged column, which rises all three levels. Uncarved circular medallions decorate the pendentive of the arches between the first and second levels and cast bronze medallions flank the entry arches. The second level has six-over-six wood double hung windows with simple limestone surrounds and articulated sills. Shallow blind recesses occupy the space between windows. A double belted frieze between the second and third floor windows frames the building name in aluminum letters, "Wayne N. Aspinall Building United States Court House". The third level has larger nine-over-nine wood double hung windows without surrounds. The cornice capping the building is composed of a dentiled ogee architrave topped with a stone balustrade. The east and west facades are similar to the south. The west facade is divided into six bays with an entry in the southwest arch. This entry is similar to the main south entry except that it its narrower in width, being comprised of a single set of double-leaf doors with granite steps, bronze handrails, and lamp standards. After 1965 when the Post Office relocated, the interior was extensively remodeled, significantly altering many prominent spaces such as the original Post Office lobby: throughout the building, ceiling heights were lowered with lay-in ceiling tile and light fixtures were added; the original Post Office work room was demised with new wall partitions; and in 1973, the removal of Louise Ronnechecks WPA painting titled Peach Harvest was relocated to a storage facility in Denver. The oil on canvas painting was commissioned under Federal Art Project, which was the visual arts arm of the New Deal Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The painting was removed from the Aspinall FB-CH in March of 2012 by Terry Dowd, Inc., an art handling company and then shipped to Page Conservation Inc. in Washington DC where it was photo documented, cleaned, filled and refined to the frames edge and ultimately transported back to Grand Junction in January 2013. The restored painting was reinstalled in its original location in January 2013 during final phases of the ARRA modernization project. In 2011 the Rocky Mountain Region of the General Services Administration (GSA) received $15,000,000.00 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for a full restoration and modernization of the Aspinall FB-CT. The project incorporated many design modernization aspects that restored and preserved the historic character of the building, specifically the exterior, but also remodeled and restored significant interior spaces while modernizing the structure with state-of-the-art sustainable and energy efficient technologies. A white steel canopy was installed upon the roof in 2012 to carry photovoltaic panels. PV panels also sit upon steel racks upon the south portion of the roof out of view from the street. Notable interior spaces include the original courtroom, ornamental staircase located in the southwest corner of the main lobby, original fir flooring in the upper floor corridors, original marble wainscoting and terrazzo flooring in the restrooms, and the original maple flooring of the Post Office work room. Character Defining Elements Character defining elements on the exterior include the height, size, building materials, fenestration pattern, massing and decorative detailing. These elements all contribute to the overall impression of the structure. The exterior materials are a defining character of the building and include the Indiana limestone and light colored brick masonry facades of the original 1918 building and the 1940 addition. Rusticated masonry elements flank the 12-bay main faade (south) from the limestone water table to the balustraded parapet. Arched window opening separated by pilasters rise from the first story and extend up to the capitals which display eagle ornamentation. The first story has arched windows openings, original to the building. The windows are wood six over six lights. At the second story, the windows are vertically aligned with the rounded arched first story windows and are original wood, six over six light double sash windows. At the roof line, a horizontal dentilled cornice is topped with a decorative balustrade parapet. Interior elements and spaces important to the building include the original winding staircase located in the southwest corner of the building; the 1930s mural, titled Peach Harvest located in the main lobby; original terrazzo flooring and marble wainscot restroom finishes; original fir wood flooring in the second and third floor corridors; original maple wood flooring in the first floor corridors and terrazzo flooring in the first floor lobby. In addition, the courtroom located on the third floor, which features oak trim, chair railings and original circular chandeliers is a significant contributing space.

The Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse) is architecturally significant as an important example of a Italian Renaissance Revival style government building designed by Supervising Architect of the Treasury James Wetmore in 1918 with a significant addition in 1940 by Wetmores successor, Louis A. Simon. In addition, it is historically significant because of its association with an important U.S. congressional leader, Wayne N. Aspinall.

Architectural Significance
Constructed in 1918, the Aspinall FB-CT was the first permanent post office building constructed in Grand Junction. Today, it maintains a place as the city's most important and architecturally refined civic structure. The building is located within one block of the central business district. It originally shared the block with the Masonic Temple and the YMCA building, the three buildings together comprising a grouping of monumental civic structures. These have since been replaced with modern structures, notably the nine-story steel and glass office complex to the west. The site at the corner of Rood and 4th Street is distinguished from the surrounding areas by its traditional landscaping of grass, ornamental trees, and prominent corner flagpole.

The building is a three-story plus basement steel and concrete structure with Indiana limestone ashlar facade and parapet balustrade. True to the Renaissance Revival style that grew out of the City Beautiful movement at the end of the 19th century, each story is uniquely detailed to reinforce the horizontality. As originally constructed, the second floor windows were topped with limestone pediments at alternate openings. Removal of these pediments in the course of the 1938-1940 expansion was most likely considered a modernization, and this change, in fact, is more consistent with the Italian Renaissance Revival style popular in the 1930s.

Historic Significance
In June 1910, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of $100,000 for construction of the first permanent post office in Grand Junction. The appropriation was soon perceived as inadequate for the design program, but it was not until 1915 that the budget was expanded to $175,000 and the design was completed by architect James Wetmore for a two-story post office and courthouse building. A major design change that added a third story to the building was made just as construction was begun in 1916. These changes, as indicated by the record of construction documents, were undertaken as a change to the contract in progress. The new three-story building was completed and postal operations moved in on March 22, 1918.

In the late 1930s, the Post Office required additional space, and in 1938 designs for an addition began. Designed by Louis A. Simon of the Treasury, the addition was completed in 1940, extending the structure 45-10 to the east. The south and east facades matched the original building construction and are clad in limestone. At the rear, north elevation, the building is clad in a light colored Denver faced brick. The addition disrupted the symmetry of the main faade and the original granite steps had to be removed and re-centered. In addition, an accessible ramp was constructed parallel to the rear faade, extending east from the rear door to the buildings end. In the late 1930s, the Federal Works Agency Section of Fine Arts commissioned Louise Emerson Ronnebeck to paint a mural to be displayed in the Post Office Lobby. Installed over the Postmasters door in the southeast end of the lobby addition, the painting titled Peach Harvest, displays topography of the area and the peach harvest in Grand County.

Democratic Representative Wayne Aspinall's association with the building spans from 1949 to 1973. During that time he served in the U.S. Congress, serving his last 14 years as the Chairman of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Wielding considerable influence on the nation's reclamation activities, Aspinall is credited with the passage of over 1,000 bills during his tenure on this committee.

By order of Public Law 92-520 of October 21, 1972, the U.S. Congress officially changed the name of the Grand Junction Federal Building to Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in honor of the former congressman from the Grand Junction area.

Year
Start
Year
End
Description Architect
1915 1918 Original Construction James A. Wetmore
1923 1923 New Mail Vestibule Addition James A. Wetmore
1938 1940 Extension of existing building by 41'-10" Treasury Department
1939 1939 Partitioned off Third Floor Stair Federal Works Agency
1939 1939 New Landscaping Federal Works Agency
1961 1961 Replaced South Entry Doors General Services Administration
1965 1965 Major Space Plan Alteration on First Floor General Services Administration
1972 1972 Bldg. Name Change General Services Administration
1977 1977 Exterior and Interior Painting General Services Administration
1980 1980 Modified Courtroom Finishes General Services Administration
1983 1983 Fire Protection and Exterior Painting General Services Administration
1987 1987 New Rubber Membrane Roof General Services Administration
2011 2013 Interior modernization and renovation, PV canopy added to roof, ADA ramp Paul Westlake
Last Reviewed: 2017-09-28