Call it the down side to the digital age: The U.S. Postal Service is selling off properties to help to reduce a $9 billion deficit. That includes the classic downtown Berkeley post office, with its marble floors, carved-wood mailboxes and New Deal mural. Here, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates writes that the city is committed to preserving the building.
As part of a national cost-cutting program, the U.S. Postal Service is selling 81 buildings across the U.S. The Berkeley Post Office, housed in a historical building downtown, is one of the buildings that will be put up for sale.
As yet, the building has not been sold and won’t be for some time.
This 98-year old-Italianate building was built in 1915 by the federal government as part of the National City Beautiful Movement. The building’s outstanding architecture was designed to impart dignity to our downtown, and has done so for many decades. Inside, the lobby’s high ceilings, marble floors, wooden benches and mailboxes add to the building’s charm. The City of Berkeley is committed to preserving this unique building.
We are in touch with the Postal Service and will be included in the sales process as it moves forward. The State Office of Historical Preservation will also play an important role in developing the sale covenants needed to safeguard the interior and exterior of this lovely building. I will work to see that the ultimate use of the building benefits Berkeley.
While the sale is some time away, my goal as Mayor is to maintain this beautiful building both internally and externally. If the building has to be sold, my goal is to put the building back on the property tax rolls while maintaining the lovely interior and functioning postal services. I also want to make sure that the public is guaranteed access to the interior of the building and especially to the 1936 mural that depicts figures from California’s Spanish and pioneer history.
The City of Berkeley is committed to working with the United States Postal Service to make this transition as smooth as possible while maintaining our historic building.