Restoring the Past for Future Generations

By on July 5, 2010 in Current Events with 0 Comments

Walking into the Springfield, OH,
Post Office is like entering a 1934 time warp. The art deco interior has been
uncovered and the community recently celebrated the building’s rebirth with an
open house and reception.

 “We
uncovered and conserved – and did everything in our power to restore to the
original condition,” said Tom Schick, Postal Service Facilities Engineer with
the Eastern Facilities Service Office in Columbus. “So many different disciplines
went into this building. From the metal shields on the ceiling molding to the
walnut inlay in oak parquet floor with brass toe kicks. It’s so well
constructed and unique.”

Restoration included two Herman
Wessel murals, the original wood floors and other parts of the building; the
Post Office now looks as it did nearly eight decades ago.

Sue Vanzant said she knew about
the 7-foot murals by the Cincinnati artist when she was appointed Springfield Postmaster
more than eight years ago. “They were hidden under a drop ceiling, but it took
two years before I was hooked up with a good project manager representing the
Postal Service,” she said. “I will be forever indebted to Tom Schick.”

The murals — part of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Federal Art Project — honor Springfield’s publishing
and agriculture industries. During the 1970s oil crisis the murals were covered
by lowered ceilings to conserve energy.

The
murals hang in what used to be the main area of the Post Office where customers
could come and talk to the superintendent if they had any concerns about their
mail. Following restoration by Parma Conservation of Chicago, they are now being
seen by the public for the first time in 35 years.


 Springfield Postmaster Sue Vanzant and USPS Facilities Engineer Tom Schick

The building’s architect was W.K. Shilling. His granddaughter, Anne Wilson of Louisville, KY, and her son Chris
Snyder, wanted to be part of the event. “I remember driving by this building with my mother as a child,” said Wilson. “However, today is the first time I’ve stepped foot in the building. It’s just beautiful.”

 “The building is a complete work of architecture designed in
Frank Lloyd Wright’s manner,” said Kevin Rose, president of Preservation
Alliance in Springfield. “What’s neat about the building is it looks like a
Post Office, not a bank or insurance company, but a Post Office.

“It’s very American,” Rose said.

© 2016 Marilyn Jones. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Marilyn Jones.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

Visit her website at travelwithmarilyn.com

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