Maude R. Toulson Federal Building and U.S Post Office, Salisbury, MD
Location: 129 E Main St, Salisbury, MD 21803
The following information has been obtained from the National Register Nomination papers prepared by A.D. Marble and Company in 2007:
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.
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.
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.
- Architect: James A. Wetmore
- Construction Date: 1924
- GSA Building Number: MD0033ZZ
- National Register of Historic Places Landmark Status: National Register Listed