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U.S. Post Office and Courthouse

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1923–1924, James A. Wetmore. Second St.
  • U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (Jet Lowe)

When a new post office building was first proposed for Cordova in 1912, 95 percent of all mail headed for Interior Alaska went through Cordova. By the time this building was constructed in 1923–1924, however, the Alaska Railroad had made Seward the primary port for the Interior.

Due to the slope of the site, this building is smaller than it appears. The L-shaped building, 49 feet by 84 feet, was constructed of reinforced concrete. The first floor was only 30 feet deep, however, containing the main entrance, a stairway, one room, and the boiler and equipment rooms. The second floor was the post office, and the third floor, the courtroom and jail.

The post office is exceedingly plain on the exterior; the doorway was marked by an entablature, which has been obscured by the recent addition of a marquee. The third-floor window sills are joined by a belt course; there is no cornice. A hip roof crowns the structure. On the interior, much of the original detail survives. James A. Wetmore, acting Supervising Architect of the Treasury, is credited with the design of the building, which was constructed by the J. B. Warrack Company of Seattle for $89,000. The post office and courthouse is the oldest federal building in Alaska still being used by the federal government.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "U.S. Post Office and Courthouse", [Cordova, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 143-144.

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