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Elko Downtown Post Office

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1933, James A. Wetmore. 275 3rd St.

Elko's main post office was one of several designed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Department that were built in Nevada during the Great Depression. The two-story building stands on a concrete foundation, the raised basement wall faced with granite and the upper walls with buff-colored brick. The symmetrical facade has seven bays with two slightly projecting end bays. The main entrance and flanking windows are set in arches defined by terra-cotta surrounds with slender twisted columns and tiles displaying stylized flora and fauna. The post office is an example of the rich architectural design and construction that the federal government supported in the early 1930s. Later, the desire to economize, combined with the influence of the Moderne and the International Style, diminished the role of decoration and fine materials.

Although this building, the first and only federal building in Elko, represents the success of local efforts for a stronger federal presence—and more jobs—in the 1930s, the planning process for the structure did not go smoothly. The location of the proposed building became a major point of contention between the town and the government when local residents demanded that the post office be centrally placed downtown. After considering several possibilities, both parties agreed on the present site. This debate foreshadowed more recent disputes between Elko residents and the federal government, largely over the management of public lands. Nevertheless, the post office, now an anchor for the downtown, remains a symbol of the cooperation between the local and federal governments in the past.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Elko Downtown Post Office", [Elko, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 156-156.

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