Santa Rosa's Historic 1910 Post Office Building
Originally housed in the old adobe home on Maria Carrillo’s Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa Post Office was later relocated in the Atheneum Theatre building on Fifth and D Streets. It was finally slated to be given a permanent home through a bill introduced in the House of Representatives on March 8, 1906. The legislation called for “the purchase of a site and erection of a public building at Santa Rosa, California…a suitable building with fireproof vaults therein, for the accommodation of the post-office and other government offices … ” with the entire amount of funding not to exceed “the sum of one hundred thousand dollars.” A month after the legislation was introduced, the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of downtown Santa Rosa. As a result, the Santa Rosa Post Office operated temporarily out of Jenkins Grocery, surrounded by wreckage and debris.
Local hop dealer, C.C. Donovan, wrote to James Knox Taylor, Supervising Architect of Federal Buildings, asking him to give priority to the construction of the new Post Office slated for Santa Rosa. Taylor (known as the national architect) designed a structure that linked architectural design to the history, environment, and culture of the community and its surroundings. The new Santa Rosa Post Office building was an example of Classic Federal Architecture in California, a design style greatly influenced by the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
Construction of the new Post Office located at Fifth and A Streets began in 1908. The building process was a community effort, exemplified by determination and superior craftsmanship. The Santa Rosa based contracting firm of Hoyt Bros. hired local firms to complete the majority of the interior and exterior work. Henry Kroncke of the Santa Rosa Planing Mills did the interior woodwork. J. C. Mailer Hardware installed the building’s plumbing. Stone contractor, George Reilly, was responsible for the Bedford stone columns and marble terrazzo floors.
Technologically, the building was ahead of its time. Ray Oil Burner Company of San Francisco installed a new automatic oil burning system, which was not shown publicly in the Bay Area until the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. In addition to heating the building, the system provided hot showers for the mail carriers. On March 9, 1910, Post Master H. L. Tripp and his postal staff moved into the newly completed Santa Rosa Post Office.
In 1979, the building was moved over 750 feet to it’s new home on 7th street, between A and B streets, to save it from demolition. Architect Dan Petersen restored it as a museum and placed the building onto the National Register of Historic Places. It reopened in 1985 as the Sonoma County Museum.
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