Albert Lea Post Office

Albert Lea Historical Downtown Walking Tour

Albert Lea Post Office

Albert Lea, Minnesota 56007, United States

Created By: Freeborn County Historical Museum


Albert Lea Post Office, 141 South Newton

Constructed in 1936-1937 under the jurisdiction of the Works Progress Administration, this reinforced-concrete building is an excellent example of the Moderne architecture used by the federal government during the Great Depression. The two-story section of the building houses a public lobby, service counters, post office boxes, and offices. A one-story wing on the east (rear) facade contains workspace and a loading dock. The building is clad in varying shades of cream limestone. The west and south facades of the two-story section display several classical characteristics including a raised first story, rusticated basement level, and federal inspired ornamentation. Limestone plaques depicting transportation motifs are situated between the first- and second-story windows. The window bays are separated by fluted limestone pilasters. On the south facade a stylized limestone screen protects the second-story stairwell window, which is stained glass. The six first-story window openings on the west facade and the two first-story window openings on the north facade hold original paired four-over-eight double-hung-sash windows. The seven second-story window openings on the west facade and the two second-story window openings on the south facade still hold original paired four-over four double-hung-sash windows. An additional four-light window acts as a transom over the first-story entrance, which also has a plaque featuring a federal eagle. The curvilinear granite entrance stoop with wrought-iron and cast-bronze hand railings and lamp posts is also original.

Albert Lea's post office has occupied this site since 1910. Before that tune, a multi-story brick building, constructed in 1884, was on the site. That building housed a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, and a mill for grinding feed. By 1899 the Northern Creamery Supply Company moved into the building. After the company built a new brick building at 115-117 South Newton Avenue, the old building was torn down. The first post office building on the site was a one-story brick building on a raised basement. The building was Romanesque in style, and fairly small in size. It was replaced in the mid-1930s by a new building that was erected, like over four hundred other post offices around the country, as a federal relief
project. The designing architect was LeRoy Gaarder, who was born in Wisconsin hi 1891 and attended Saint Olaf College and the University of Minnesota. After serving with an engineering division in France in World War I, he opened architecture offices in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, in 1918, and in Albert Lea in 1920. In 1933, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the federal government. During World War II, he continued his government career in Seattle. Gaarder returned to Albert Lea in 1945, where he was responsible for designing a number of churches and other buildings until his retirement in 1969. Louis A. Simon, the supervising architect for the Albert Lea post office, oversaw construction of a number of post offices in Minnesota, as well as the post office and courthouse in Los Angeles and the Appraisers Building in San Francisco.

The C. M. Tapager Company, a prominent Albert Lea contractor, received a $147,674 contract to erect Albert Lea's post office in October 1935. In April 1937, the new facility was dedicated. It has continued to serve the same function since that tune.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Albert Lea Historical Downtown Walking Tour


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