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Seaboard Center (U.S. Post Office and Federal Courts Building)

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U.S. Post Office and Federal Courts Building
1899–1900, Wyatt and Nolting with James K. Taylor, Supervising Architect, U.S. Treasury Department. 1984, restoration, OSC Associates. 235 E. Plume St. Lobby open to the public
  • Seaboard Center (U.S. Post Office and Federal Courts Building)
  • Seaboard Center (U.S. Post Office and Federal Courts Building)

A good example of Beaux-Arts urbanism, this former federal building nestles into an obliquely angled corner site in the heart of downtown. Wyatt and Nolting, a prominent Baltimore firm, chose a Neo-Palladian design that recalled the work of James Gibbs. The ground level is clad in rusticated limestone, while the piano nobile and attic levels are clad in brick with limestone ornamentation, including corner quoining and projecting window caps supported by consoles. The center of the main facade on Plume Street projects slightly and is distinguished on the upper levels by an engaged, three-bay Scamozzian Ionic portico with pediment and a central balcony over the main entrance. An interior court surrounded by early Renaissance arcades brings light into the center of the building. The post office once occupied the ground level, with the courtroom and auxiliary spaces on the upper levels.

The construction of a new U.S. post office and courthouse in the early 1930s on the northern edge of downtown made this building redundant. With only minor alterations, it was pressed into service as Norfolk's city hall (1938–1965), and the International Style Hipage Building, immediately adjacent (1954–1955, T. David Fitz-Gibbon; 227 East Plume Street) was constructed as a stopgap municipal annex during the protracted planning process for the new Norfolk Civic Center. Subsequently, with the completion of the Civic Center in the mid-1960s, it served other purposes and then was carefully restored by OSC Associates.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Seaboard Center (U.S. Post Office and Federal Courts Building)", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-NK9.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 402-403.

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