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A History of Resilience: The Old Post Office

It stands out for its height, its clock tower, its impressive architecture and its grandeur. Soon it will house the newest Trump Hotel. Still, how much do we really know about the Old Post Office. The old building has been around since before the turn of the 20th Century and has survived two attempts at demolition. Here's a brief history of the building that has featured in many a story over the past week.

1899: The Old Post Office opened after seven years of construction. At the time of its opening the building actually was used as the city's post office. The Romanesque Revival designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke provided at lot of "bests" and "firsts" for the cities. It had the largest uninterrupted enclosed space. It was the first building with its own included electrical wiring. It was also the first to have a steel frame structure. The 315 foot high clock tower remains the third tallest structure in downtown D.C.

1914: The D.C. General Post Office moved to a new location near Union Station and the building was converted entirely into office spaces for government agencies.

1926: The construction plans for Federal Triangle start to surface, which threaten the future of the Old Post Office Building.

1928: Construction begins on a circular plaza that would require the building's demolition.

1938: The final attempt for thirty years to level the building was finished. As the country sat in the middle of the Great Depression, more members of Congress deemed the move financially irresponsible.

1956: The large weight attached to the cable of the clock in the tower came loose and went through two stories. This led to the mechanical clock being replaced with an electric clock.

1970: A new plan to demolish the building was backed by the National Capital Planning Commission who said that only the clock tower should remain.

1971: The predecessors of the D.C. Preservation League calling themselves "Don't Tear It Down" protested the building's demolition. One of the leaders of this movement was Nancy Hanks, the chairwoman for the National Endowment of the Arts.

1973: After years of fighting the Nixon administration regarding its demolition, the Old Post Office was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1976: The Congress Bells which now reside in the clock tower are presented as a gift by The Ditchley Foundation of Great Britain for America's Bicentennial celebration.

1977: The building undergoes the first of two renovations. The first cost $18 million. The second cost $29 million.

1983: The building reopened and the retail portion was named the Nancy Hanks Center in honor of the woman who fought to preserve it. Hanks had died a few weeks prior to the reopening.

1986: Congress passes legislature that renames the entire building the Nancy Hanks Center.

1992: An expansion on the building called the East Atrium opens.

2008: D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces the Old Post Office Development Act. This required the General Services Administration to develop the Old Post Office.

2013: The Trump Organization signed a 60 year lease from the Federal Government for the renovation of the Old Post Office into their newest Trump International Hotel.
· Old Post Office Pavilion [Wikipedia]
· Old Post Office, Washington DC [GSA]
· Old Post Office Tower [National Park Association]
· Old Post Office DC [Official Site]
· All Coverage of the Old Post Office [CDC]

Old Post Office

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004 Visit Website