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“Death of a Post Office: The Bruised Legacy of Architect William H. Corlett"

“Death of a Post Office: The Bruised Legacy of Architect William H. Corlett” details the abrupt 2014 closure and aftermath of the Franklin Street Post Office in Napa, California. The Art Deco style building, constructed in 1933 sustained significant structural damage during the August 23rd Napa earthquake closing the facility to public access and mail sorting operations.

Author Marques Vickers began photographing the exterior damage on the morning of the quake and continued in intervals until January 2017. Over 70+ images display the building’s exterior wounds. Vickers’ narrative follows the history and complexity of restoring local architect’s William H. Corlett’s design, originally financed by Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration.

The brick edifice features exterior terra cotta friezes of shields, ram heads, eagles, and decorative cornices. Sizable bronze urn lanterns front the entrance and exit doors. The interior showcases an elaborate lobby featuring detailed woodwork, ceilings and lower walled marble paneling. In 1985, the building was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

The repair cost evaluation in July 2015, prompted the US Postal Service to announce their intention to demolish the building. A subsequent concerted public outcry resulted in the authority modifying their decision and offering the building for sale. The stipulation that the structure be restored to its original architectural integrity has become problematic. Napa is destined to lose their main post office but potentially gain a commercial development.

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