New Deal Post Office in Camas, WA: Going, going, gone


The post office in downtown Camas, Washington, was built in 1939 under the New Deal, and it's been on the National Register of Historic Buildings since 1991. 

The Camas post office contains a mural, sponsored by the Section of Fine Arts, painted by Douglas Nicholson in 1941. Entitled "Beginning of a New World," it depicts Northwest settlers and a Native American woman as well as local industries of lumber, dairying, fruit and grain, and fishing.  (More on the history of this post office, here.)

The Postal Service announced back in late 2009 that the Camas post office would be closing, a decision decried by residents and city officials. “You’re taking a sound establishment from the core of downtown, which will have a detriment to the downtown businesses,” said Brent Erickson, executive director of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce. “With businesses that have moved out of the area or closed up shop, we’ll have that much less of a walking traffic down here.”  “It’s used by many, many, many people,” City Manager Lloyd Halverson said. “It’s got nice architecture to it. It would be a loss to the downtown area.”  Mayor Paul Dennis criticized the Postal Service for its decision and expressed his concerns, but the city was essentially “blown-off” by the Postal Service and said it was going to move forward with the consolidation.

The Columbian reported on April 13, 2011, that the Vancouver-based Last U.S. Bag Co., will be buying the building for the asking price of $430,000.  Last U.S. Bag Co. sells custom-sewn bags and cases, and it will use the post office as a showroom and office space.

Beginning in the fall of this year, citizens will need to use an annex on the outskirts of town for their retail services and post office boxes.

More about the community's response on its Facebook page, Save the Camas PO.

(Photo credit: exterior; mural; annex.)