U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Galveston, TX
Location: 601 25th St, Galveston, TX 77550
The United States Post Office and Courthouse in Galveston, Texas is significant because it is a representation of the Art Deco style of architecture; and because the building has represented the Federal government in Galveston for 60 years.
The Galveston building is streamlined and monolithic in design, especially on the main, east, elevation. Art Deco style includes abstracted classical features. This is evident in the stringcourse and the abstracted pilasters which delineate the end bays of each elevation. It was the practice during the 1930s in the Art Deco style to use regional materials wherever possible. The United States Post Office and Courthouse in Galveston is clad with porous fossiliferous limestone. It is not known where the limestone was quarried, though the rock is typical of coastal areas. It was originally planned that the building be faced with brick. Local Congressman J.J. Mansfield and the Collector of Customs, Fred Papst, urged the Treasury Department to use limestone, a grander finish more fitting a Federal building. The construction of the Galveston United States Post Office and Courthouse took place during a period of unprecedented Federal construction. The passage of the Public Buildings Act in 1926 precipitated the construction of hundreds of Federal buildings under the auspices of the U. S. Treasury Department. The Galveston building was built in 1937 on the site of an older Post Office and Federal Building. The earlier Romanesque building, constructed in the early 1890s, was demolished to prepare for the construction of the current Federal building. The first Post Office was built in Galveston in 1836. A Customs House and Court House was built in the late 1850s but due to Galveston's growth as a port city, the need for additional Federal office and court space necessitated further construction. In fact, the need was so great the 1890s structure became inadequate in slightly more than forty years. Originally, the building housed the Post Office on the first floor; the postal inspectors on the second floor; various government offices on the third floor; the Customs Department on the fourth floor; petit and grand jury space on the fifth floor; judge's,
U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Marshals, and the ceremonial courtroom on the sixth floor; the cotton classifying rooms, Bureau of Navigation and Bureau of Agriculture on the seventh floor. Though some tenants have changed, the basic function of the building as Post Office, Courthouse and Federal office building remains the same.
The Art Deco style is uncommon, and therefore, distinctive, in Galveston. Both the design and location of the building serve as symbols of the higher power of the Federal government. The continued use of the building as a community focal point for postal and other Federal functions reiterates its importance to Galveston.
- Architect: Finn, Alfred
- Construction Date: 1937
- GSA Building Number: TX0081ZZ
- National Register of Historic Places Landmark Status: National Register Listed