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Delivering The Goods On Oklahoma City’s Original Post Office PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jack Money   
Friday, 13 July 2007 00:00

JULY, 2007: Federal authorities announced this month in 1930 (July 13, the Sunday starting the month’s third week) they were revising expansion plans for the United States Post Office and Courthouse in Oklahoma City at 215 NW 3, or Dean A. McGee Avenue, as it is known today. (1)The building, built in 1912, quickly had become too small for a growing community that had not yet fully felt the effect of the Great Depression. James A. Wetmore, supervising architect for the $1,100,000 job, announced planners had added another story to the planned tower portion of the building, making it nine stories tall.

Wetmore said the additional floor, added to the tower’s top, would be used for courtrooms while lower floors would be redesigned to provide federal workers with additional office space. Postal officials would be moved temporarily so that they could continue to sort and deliver mail to the growing community, said W.G. Johnston, Oklahoma City’s postmaster.

 Johnston later would brag that the latest expansion project’s size was equaled only by construction of the original building two decades earlier. (2)

Workers finished erecting steel for the tower, which was given an Art Deco design, in August 1931, and workers completed expanding the building – marking the end of its second expansion – in 1932. (3) 


James Knox Taylor, supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury Department, designed the initial building in the Beaux Arts Classic style and it was built in 1912. The government doubled its size in 1919 with its first expansion. The original building is three stories tall and faced with limestone. Notable components of the façade include pediments, arched openings and shallow balconies. Red tiles cover the original building’s roof.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. And well it should be: It was the scene of the 1933 trials of Machine Gun Kelly and his wife Kathryn, both of whom were sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping Oklahoma Cityan Charles F. Urschel, one of the state’s wealthiest men at the time. (4)

Kelly’s trial was the first in the nation to allow sound and picture equipment in a federal courtroom. In 1949, the court heard McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. A decision in the case desegregated graduate schools in Oklahoma. (5)

In the late 1990s, George Hozendorf, a special administrator for the federal government’s General Services Administration, worked out of the United States Post Office and Federal Building on the effort to replace the Murrah Federal Building, destroyed in 1995 by a bomb.

Today, the building continues to function as a federal court and as an office building for federal employees – the Post Office moved out in 1966 – and provides a classic backdrop for downtown Oklahoma City activities.

1) Height Added to Post Office, The Oklahoman, July 13, 1930

2) Postal Bids Due Tuesday, The Oklahoman, December 22, 1930

3) www.gsa.gov

4) www.fbi.gov

5) www.gsa.gov  



Last Updated on Sunday, 22 February 2009 02:52