Dedication Ceremony of Downtown Post Office as Local Historic Landmark Sept. 2

Published Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm

The Town of Boone Historic Preservation Commission is pleased to announce the public dedication ceremony celebrating the designation of the United States Post Office in Downtown Boone as a Local Historic Landmark.

This ceremony will take place on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, at the US Post Office Building at 680 West King Street. Festivities will include live music and light refreshments beginning at 5:00 p.m. Mayor Rennie Brantz and members of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission will unveil the Local Historic Landmark plaque during the official ceremony starting at approximately 5:30pm. Members of the public are welcome and highly encouraged to attend.

Construction on the US Post Office in Downtown Boone began in 1938 as part of a Works Progress Administration initiative to build hundreds of new post office buildings throughout the country. Erected on land once owned by J. D. “Crack” Councill, whose ancestors ran the first post office in Boone in 1823—when the small community was known as “Councill’s Store”—the Boone Post Office featured the design of Louis A. Simon, the supervising architect for the US Treasury. Several local artisans helped with construction of the Colonial Revival-style building, including stonemasons Earl and Clarence Lyons and carpenter Willard Watson.

The official post office dedication took place on April 10, 1940, with a crowd of nearly 3,000 people on hand. Nevertheless, the post office opened under a shroud of controversy because of the New Deal lobby mural commissioned from artist Alan Tompkins. The original version—which had won a national contest—featured tobacco growers in a lowland field typical of the eastern part of the state, prompting the editor at the Watauga Democrat to declare, “As far as artistic imagination goes, the thing stinks.” In the face of public outcry over a mural that did not reflect Boone’s people or traditions, Tompkins returned to Boone, sought input from the community, and redesigned the mural. The second version, featuring Daniel Boone on a hunting expedition, is the only such New Deal mural that survives in northwest North Carolina.

The US Post Office in Downtown Boone has served the Boone community for more than 76 years. Following unsuccessful federal attempts to close the post office in the 1970s, local preservationists succeeded in listing the building in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. By 2009, though, the US Postal Service was again threatening to close the facility and sell the building to developers, which likely would have resulted in the property’s demolition. Motivated by this threat to one of Downtown Boone’s most significant twentieth-century buildings, the Town of Boone, with assistance and input from the Historic Preservation Commission, purchased the building and completed a meticulous, historically sensitive renovation shortly thereafter. The Boone Historic Preservation Commission and the Boone Town Council voted in January 2016 to designate the post office as Boone’s first Local Historic Landmark, thus permanently protecting the building as an essential historic resource for our community.

Please join us in celebrating this important part of Boone’s history and this critical milestone in preserving the historic architecture of Downtown Boone.

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