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Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University (Old Federal Building, U.S. Post Office and Federal Building)

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Old Federal Building, U.S. Post Office and Federal Building
1908–1911, James K. Taylor, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury; 1980 rehabilitation, Steenwyk-Thrall Architects; 2010–2011 rehabilitation, Tower Pinkster with Hopkins-Burns. 115 N. Division Ave.

This monumental federal government building of rusticated gray Vermont granite is an outstanding example in western Michigan of the Beaux-Arts classical style popularized by McKim, Mead and White. The building replaced a Renaissance Revival federal building erected in 1879. The two-story, half-columned colonnade at the second level of the original main (west) facade is balanced by two pedimented entrance pavilions, and the distinctive tripartite horizontal division is suggestive of the individual blocks of the Place de la Concorde in Paris. In its grand and noble character the building symbolized the federal presence in Grand Rapids. A congressional appropriation won by Senator Alden Smith in 1906 assured its construction. The city acquired the building in 1975 when it was declared surplus by the General Services Administration. It was rehabilitated in 1980, retaining the elegant interior plasterwork, woodwork, and mosaic flooring, to house the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which moved to a new building in 2007 ( KT6). In 2010, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University began the rehabilitation of the former federal building for classrooms, offices, and gallery space. To effect the rehabilitation, the city is leasing the building to Federal Building Partners, an entity controlled by Christman Construction, and, in turn, to Ferris. Eventually Ferris will own the building.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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