- San Francisco, CA
- Site Type:
- Federal Facilities, Post Offices
- New Deal Agencies:
- Federal & Military Operations, Treasury Department
- Gilbert Stanley Underwood, Louis A. Simon
This former San Francisco post office, originally known as the Rincon Annex, was built in 1939-40 and served as the major package transfer center through the city’s port – then the largest on the West Coast. The building was paid for by the Treasury Department and designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the Streamline Moderne style.
The detail work, inside and out, is exceptional. The exterior scrim features repeated dolphin bas-reliefs and carved eagles across the facade. The exterior windows and doors are beautiful examples of the Art Deco love of cast aluminum. The interior lobby is done in green and black tile, with the old service windows and doors featuring lovely cast aluminum, stainless steel and glass.
The rear, warehouse portion of the old post office was torn down and replaced in the 1980s by a mixed-use highrise complex called Rincon Center. There was a fierce community effort to save the front of the old post office and its Art Deco lobby when the project was first announced, c 1978. That led to a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
To their credit, the architects of the Rincon Center, led by Scott Johnson of Pereira Associates, created a suitable counterpoint to the old post office lobby in the center of the new complex: a soaring atrium that features a raining fountain in the center and a scrim decorated pseudo-bas relief murals featuring arts and sciences in the postwar era.
Rincon Center is the site of Anton Refregier’s “History of California,” a New Deal arts project, and the old post office lobby has displays of photographs and artifacts from the neighborhood on the edge of the bay where the building stands.
"Guide to the Art & Architecture of the New Deal," livingnewdeal.org, 2015.
Site originally submitted by Shaina Potts on August 25, 2010.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
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