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U.S. Post Office and Custom House

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1909–1913, James Knox Taylor, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury. 80 Main St., Richford village

Located less than three miles from the international border on the south-flowing Missisquoi River and at a junction of Canadian and Vermont rail lines, Richford village has always been dependent on Canada for markets, workforce, and citizenry. It is not surprising that shortly after the consolidation in 1908 of its milling resources into the large Sweat-Comings furniture manufactory, it received a substantial new custom house.

During Taylor's tenure in the supervising architect's office, commissions for major federal structures were awarded to private firms by competition, while minor ones were designed in-house by government architects. The goal for the latter was a combination of function and dignity. Taylor's successor, Oscar Wenderoth (under whom the Richford project was completed), stressed the importance of the government's smaller buildings in cultivating an appreciation of the beautiful in a national audience not exposed to great urban architectural monuments. It is not surprising, then, that this Beaux-Arts design reflects aspects of a major building designed shortly before, Rankin and Kellogg's federal building (1905) in Indianapolis. However, in Richford, the building is simplified in execution from the Indianapolis building and is constructed of buff brick with terra-cotta detailing rather than stone. Motifs of the Indianapolis design are seen in the stacked windows set into recessed panels between pilaster-like piers, central facade bays framed by paired Ionic columns, and a carefully articulated entablature and balustrade that crown the whole.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "U.S. Post Office and Custom House", [Richford, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 200-200.

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