Downtown Mesa now has The Post, a new City-owned community and event space that involved the architectural restoration and transformation of Mesa's first 1st-class post office, located at 26 N. Macdonald, which operated in the building from 1936 to 1970.
"One of the best things about downtown Mesa is its character, and it's great to see historic buildings like The Post coming back to life," said Mesa Mayor John Giles. "This new event space is a point of pride for our city, and I can't wait to see it active with community events."
The building renovation included the installation of new HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire sprinklers, elevator, restrooms, interior finishes and incorporated new technology in sound and lighting equipment, bringing The Post up to meet code requirements while maintaining many of the 1930's original building features:
The original 1936 Post Office was designed in the Federal Moderne architectural style, often called Starved Classicism, due to the purposeful lack of decorative detail illustrating the financial stress of the Depression and the fiscal responsibilities of the time.
During the recent renovation, wood subflooring was found under a layer of tar paper in excellent condition, likely as a moisture barrier for the flooring. Since being covered for approximately 87 years, the wood was reclaimed and decoratively installed along various walls throughout the building. The wood from the original hardwood floor was from a tree farm owned by Connor Forest Industries, a Michigan-based company founded in 1872 that still operates today.
The interior of the front facade of the original building features a variety of blocks that are now exposed. While most Depression-era construction details were functional rather than decorative, the City retained the decorative details that did exist. For example, the tile on the floor at the original entrance of the building resembles a welcome mat for patrons who entered the Post Office.
There is an interior window that appears to lead to nowhere. Discovered during the recent renovation, the window was once located on the rear fa?ade of the original building. Just above that window is a horizontal band of windows on a mezzanine level added during an expansion of the building in the 1960s. This space, now a conference room, served as the Postmaster's office, with the upper windows allowing him to check on the staff and operations on the main floor.
A flagpole originally extended from the center of the roof of the original building. Inside The Post, the angled steel beam, which served as the original flagpole support, can be seen at the center of the ceiling aligned with the front entrance. The flagpole was later placed on the sidewalk in front of the building and, today, is on the southwest corner of Macdonald and Pepper Place
"The importance of this building goes beyond its physical structure. It will serve as a symbol of progress and renewal," said District 4 Councilmember Jenn Duff. "It will also turn this space into a community-centric event venue to unite and serve our community through events initiated by residents. The restoration and adaptive reuse of this building is an essential component of revitalization efforts that can help downtown Mesa thrive and flourish for years to come."
The Federal Building, as it became known after the expansion in 1960, housed federal and state offices. In 2001, it was declared surplus property by the federal government and, in 2002, was deeded to the City of Mesa, requiring it to be maintained for public purposes. The building was used for several purposes, including storage space for the Arizona Museum of Natural History. In 2018, Mesa voters approved a bond issue to convert the building into a community event space.
"The Federal Building had been an important part of many of our residents' lives. As we planned the transformation, we knew we had to do all we could to preserve its original character and architectural design elements to continue telling its story," said Mesa City Manager Chris Brady. "Thanks to the talent of architects, engineers and contractors melding old and new, Mesa now has a unique and exciting community space for future generations to enjoy."
The Post will eventually include a Neon Garden and outdoor event venue featuring iconic neon business signs preserved by Mesa Preservation Foundation and the City of Mesa.