Historic protection put on Main Street post office
December 6, 2011
A City Hall panel recently determined that the Main Street post office is a historically significant site, a classification that would make it more difficult for the building to be torn down someday if it was held by the private sector.
The Historic Preservation Board designated the post office, 450 Main St., as what is known as a significant site. There are 403 sites in Park City that have been designated as either significant or as landmarks as part of City Hall’s preservation program. The post office dates to 1921.
Since the post office is federally owned, however, the United States Postal Service is able to make decisions about the property regardless of the City Hall protection.
Dina Blaes, a City Hall preservation consultant, coauthored a report recommending the post office be put into the historically significant classification. She said in an interview private sector buildings that are under the classification are afforded greater protections from being demolished and from redevelopment.
Blaes said Washington, although it is empowered to make its own decisions about federally owned properties, generally acknowledges local governments’ wishes for preservation.
She said the post office is not eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which is maintained by the National Park Service, since the materials on the exterior of the building are not original and there has been an addition on the south end of the building.
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"The person who built it wouldn’t recognize it today," Blaes acknowledged.
She called the post office an "icon within the city," though.
The Historic Preservation Board approved the classification unanimously and with little discussion beforehand. Nobody testified at a hearing before the vote.
The report provided to the panel beforehand, written by Blaes and Planning Director Tom Eddington, said the post office was built using Greek revival architecture. The report said the architecture was not common for a building built in the 1920s, having been used more often between 1830 and 1860. The Main Street post office was extensively redone in 1964, including additions on the north and the south, the report said.
"The additions engulf and obscure the original building and the decorative elements obscure the design of the historic primary facade," the report said.
The Blaes-Eddington report indicates the post office in 1979 was found to contribute to Main Street’s historic fabric, but that was reversed a decade later based on the 1964 redo. An undated historic photograph of the post office in the files of the Park City Museum shows a building with little resemblance to the current one.
Many of the postal service’s area operations have been moved from the Main Street facility to a newer facility on Park Avenue. The Main Street post office, though, maintains counter services like shipping and it holds post-office boxes where many people in Old Town receive their mail since home delivery is not offered in the neighborhood.
City Hall over the years has shown interest in acquiring the Main Street post office parcel, perhaps to incorporate the land into some sort of town plaza that would stretch between Main Street and Swede Alley. There has been little recent public discussion about that idea, though.