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Greybull Main Post Office

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1937–1939, Louis A. Simon, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury; 1940 mural, Manuel A. Bromberg. 401 Greybull Ave.
  • Mural

The Greybull Post Office was one of seven Wyoming post offices built by the federal government during the Great Depression. Statewide, the federal government built twenty-five post offices between 1900 and 1941 based on standardized plans formulated and implemented through the Office of the Supervising Architect in the Treasury Department. During this period, standard designs changed according to national events and stylistic trends.

The design of the Greybull Post Office reflects the Depression-era aesthetic. The building is a solid cube devoid of decoration. The smooth, plain brick walls convey a sense of restraint in a time when many were struggling to make ends meet. The construction of the post office was a major community event. Local newspapers covered every detail of the building process, from initial survey, to groundbreaking, to the last roof tile. Senator Joseph O’Malley participated in the opening ceremonies.

The Greybull Post Office is located just east of the downtown commercial area on Greybull Avenue (U.S. 14), the main east-west road through town. The one-story, five-bay, flat-roofed, buff-brick building rests on a poured concrete foundation. The double-door main entrance is located on the north elevation, accessed by granite stairs flanked by limestone stair walls. The doorway is topped by a tall, nine-light transom window fronted by an ornate brass grill depicting an eagle. On each side of the central entrance are two tall (almost full-length), recessed window bays topped by flat arches, with each containing triple-hung, six-light wood sash. Along the cornice of the facade is a slightly protruding plain limestone frieze. “United States Post Office, Greybull, Wyoming” is carved into the frieze above the entry. The four bays on the east and west elevations originally held the same recessed, triple-hung, six-light windows; however, a few of the openings have been partially infilled to accommodate a handicapped-accessible doorway and other changes. The interior of the building retains its original wood doors and trim.

Greybull was also a beneficiary of the U.S. government’s Section of Fine Arts program, which selected artists through national competitions to create murals for federal buildings. A 12 x 6–foot mural, Chuck Wagon Serenade by Manuel A. Bromberg, was completed in 1940 and is located on the east wall of the lobby over the postmaster's door. It depicts cowboys singing after an evening meal at the chuck wagon. Local opinion of this mural was not favorable. Letters of protest claimed the scene did not accurately portray the area or the people. Bromberg revised the painting, altering the chuck wagon scene to appear more realistic and to incorporate local background scenery. The mural remains one of the state’s best-preserved examples of federally commissioned art in a government building.

Both the exterior and the interior of the Greybull Post Office have changed little since 1939. The building continues to serve as a post office.

References

Kolva, H.J., “Greybull Main Post Office,” Big Horn County, Wyoming. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1986. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Kolva, H.J., “Historic U.S. Post Offices in Wyoming (Thematic Resources) 1900-1941,” Wyoming. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1986. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Marling, Karal Ann. Wall-to-Wall America: A Cultural History of Post-Office Murals in the Great Depression.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Samantha Ford
Coordinator: 
Mary M. Humstone
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Data

Timeline

  • 1937

    Built
  • 1940

    Mural painted

Citation

Samantha Ford, "Greybull Main Post Office", [Greybull, Wyoming], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WY-01-003-0087.

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