State committee OKs historic status for Scappoose post office
Addition to National Register remains to be confirmed
An Oregon state advisory committee voted unanimously in favor of the United States Postal Services application to designate the post office in Scappoose as a historic building Friday, Feb. 21.
Members of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation said the Scappoose post office one of several postal buildings in Oregon it recommended for historic status is a slam dunk case for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The post office was built in the mid-1960s for about $170,000, according to Oregon National Register and Survey Program historian Ian Johnson. While it was completed in early 1966, making it two years shy of the 50-year cutoff point typically used to determine which buildings may be considered historic, the committee opted to be flexible with that limit.
The boxy, unadorned post office off Highway 30 in central Scappoose may not spring to mind as a candidate for historic status for many people, participants in the meeting at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove acknowledged.
Saying, Heres this post office, and by the way, its not 50 years old, and its exceptional, and its worthy of the National Register, I mean, a layperson is just going to wonder, What is going on in your mind? John Goodenberger, chairman of the committee, said.
But committee members seemed to agree the Scappoose post office is an exemplar of architectural and design standards in place for what Johnson called the Thousand Series of post offices, built in the 1960s and early 1970s in a largely uniform style.
Gail Sargent, a Hermiston architect who serves on the committee, recalled a field trip to a postal facility as a 10-year-old girl. At the time, she said, automated mail sorting machines of the sort seen at the Scappoose post office were a cutting-edge innovation.
It was so cool, this new mechanized [system], Sargent remembered. The post office thing, that was a really huge deal. It was a new building, or newer, new-ish, building, at the time. ... Take the kids and go see how mail is done. It was great.
Roger Roper, deputy state historic preservation officer, tried to place the committees consideration of the post office as a historic building in context after the vote, during a break in the meeting.
Sometimes, newer buildings are harder for us all to appreciate, because were too close to them, said Roper. Every generation of buildings kind of goes through sort of an ugly phase where people dont really appreciate it. And thats just sort of the nature of it. So we try to be open-minded about that even though Ive said Im going to get out of the business once split-level homes start getting listed in the National Register, he quipped.
The process for conferring historic status is not instantaneous. The committee voted to forward the nomination to historic status for the post office in Scappoose, as well as several other contemporary USPS facilities included in a multiple-property document, to the Keeper of the National Register. The Keeper currently Carol Shull, serving in an interim capacity will have 45 days upon receiving the nominations to decide whether to place the buildings on the National Register.
According to Roper, placement on the National Register is mostly a matter of recognition and status. However, he added, local governments and community members may be inclined to preserve and protect a federally listed historic building.Add a comment