A Sense of Place: New Deal Post Office in Fort Worth, For Sale?


In the mid-nineteenth century, Fort Worth, Texas, became the center of the cattle drives of the legendary Chisholm Trail, earning it the nickname “Cowtown.” The railroad arrived in 1876, ushering in another boom and a new nickname, “Queen City of the Prairies.”  The cowboys whooped it up in dozens of saloons and bawdy houses, and Forth Worth got itself yet another sobriquet, “The Paris of the Plains.” (Wikipedia)

Downtown Fort Worth is known for its Beaux Arts and Art Deco  architecture.  Among the city’s historic buildings is the 1933 post office.  Unlike most New Deal post offices, which followed standard Treasury Department designs, it was designed by an architect, Wyatt C. Hedrick, who also did the Will Rogers Memorial Center and Amon G. Carter Stadium.

As local historian Quentin McGown told the Star-Telegram (in an excellent article by Bill Hanna), the post office is one of Fort Worth’s iconic buildings, and it exudes “a sense of place.”  “To me, it is the ultimate federal building.”

The post office prospered from the 1930s through the 1950s, but it went downhill after it was cut off from the rest of downtown by Interstate 30 in 1958. In the 1980s the Federal Highway Commission and Texas DOT proposed widening the I-30 overpass to within 40 feet of the post office façade, which would have meant the end of the post office, but a grassroots fight successfully stopped the project with a federal lawsuit.  The old I-30 was torn down in 2002, reuniting the post office with the downtown, and, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation states, “the city of Fort Worth is now in the midst of a creating a master plan to revitalize the Lancaster Avenue corridor, making into a dynamic, attractive, pedestrian-friendly gateway to downtown.”

The future of the post office is unclear—maybe the city will take it over, maybe a developer will convert it to commercial uses, maybe it will be destroyed.  As the Star-Telegram reports, Sam Bolen, a Postal Service spokesman, said the service had no comment about the negotiations with the city or a possible sale of the building.  But it’s looking like the US Postal Service will not be a part of this post office’s future.

(Photo credits: Exterior; interior; I-30 cutting off post office; postcard; see a slideshow here)