Property Type: Institutional
Neighborhood: Downtown  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Beaux Arts
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The Original U.S. Post Office and Federal Building is located on the intersection of Bannock St. and 8th St. The plans for the Post Office were first established by the architect, James Knox Taylor, in 1899. However, the construction did not begin until 1902. The building is located in our current downtown in front of the Capitol Building. The Post Office is older than the Capitol Building and while the Capitol was being built, the Post Office was used to house many of the Capitol Building workers. The Post Office added the name of the Federal Building because the positions for Capitol Building employers continue to be housed there today. Therefore, the Original Post Office contains Federal employees, while the other half consists of the Post Office workers. Approximately four to five years ago the Post Office was put up for sale by the government. The government sold the building to the state for $1.00. The state then had to fund a $1 million contract for renovations. Today the building is part of the Idaho State Historical Society because of its age and significance. The building is located on Bannock Street and is surrounded by many other buildings that were constructed to look formal. The Post Office is surrounded by a variety of different banks which are in some ways similar in architectural style to that of the Post Office. However, many of these buildings have a more modern style. The Post Office contains the most classical style, and is one of the oldest on the street. This theme of formality is present in more than one building. Throughout Boise there are not many classical style buildings, therefore, because of the small amount of classical architecture, the Post Office is so unique to Boise and its history. The architectural style of the Old Post Office and Federal Building is considered a classical design because of the features such as crowns, moldings, marble pilasters and wall panels, paneled walls and doors, wood bases and trim work. These designs add to a very formal setting that is created in the building. This is further exemplified through the style of the windows, the arches and the overhanging, which are all distinctive features that set the building apart from Boise Downtown. While the design on the building helped create this sense, the materials helped to create a sense of permanence. Exterior materials included sandstone and brick masonry while the inside consisted of marble and terrazzo. This building, constructed in 1902, still retains much of the original materials as well, such as the varnished oak wood paneling, the glue-chip glass at the wood entry vestibule. The bronze finishing present at the doorway and the ornamental metal in the elevator are also authentic. Distinctive and remarkable, the Old Post Office and Federal Building also has an architectural significance with regards to Boise’s history. Supervising architect James Knox Taylor’s initial design was a small, elaborate building, constructed with stone and topped with a hipped roof, with a Second Renaissance style. However, money posed a problem, and Taylor resorted to using bricks rather than stone, which was more expensive. The sandstone that was used for the building came from the Table Rock quarry nearby. Although Taylor opted for the less-expensive construction material, the granite that composed the building’s steps was the single largest block of stone ever quarried in the area. As Boise’s population increased at the turn of the century, so did examples of Classical and Romanesque styled buildings. This primarily made up Boise’s Capital Square, including the Territorial Statehouse, Ada Courthouse and the Central School. The construction of the Old Post Office and Federal Building was then incorporated into the Capitol Square.

Information courtesy of Anna Webb of the Idaho Statesman