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Fort Wayne Post Office 1889 – 1932
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
Our city’s first post office was in Hanna & Barnett’s general store at Barr and Columbia Streets. Samuel Hanna, appointed in 1820, was our first postmaster. The post office would go on to have a few other locations, including on Court Street facing the Courthouse, before this magnificent building pictured here was completed in 1889. The site of this post office (also known as the Federal or Government Building) was at the southeast corner of East Berry and Clinton Streets; the lot was purchased in 1883 for $34,000. However, due to the wait for further appropriations, it would not be until 1885 that construction began.
Designed in Washington, D. C. under the direction of Mifflin E. Bell (Supervising Architect of the U. S. Treasury Department) in the Richardsonian Romanesque style popular in the late 1800’s, the building’s turret reached a height of 115 feet above the ground making it among the tallest structures in the city when it was completed at a cost of $215,000.
To the chagrin of officials in Indianapolis, rather than being built of limestone from southern Indiana, it was constructed of buff sandstone from the Stony Point, Michigan quarry owned by Fort Wayne businessman Steven B. Bond. Bond later also supplied the sandstone for the City Building (now the History Center) one block east, completed in 1893.
In addition to the post office on the first floor, beginning in 1903, the building also housed the Federal Court on the second floor as well as other federal offices including the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Marshal’s office. This building was replaced by the new post office and federal courthouse building on Harrison between Douglas and Brackenridge in 1932. The pictured old post office building was razed in 1938 and the site is now part of the parking lot for Citizens Square.
(Image Courtesy ACPL)
A tip of the hat to research by Hon. Judge William Lee and postal historian John Kalb.
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, author of three books on local history and the history/architecture guide for Fort Wayne Food Tours.