Paintsville Post Office, circa 1931, is the ultimate in adaptive reuse

Old Post Office - Paintsville, Ky.
The Old Post Office - Paintsville, Ky.
If you walk down Paintsville's Second Street, you can not help but notice the seven-bay Colonial Revival post office at the intersection with College Street. The impressive building, its front door at the building's center, dates to 1931. One of Paintsville's oldest commercial structures, the old post office features a brick and concrete parapet with balustrade below the Mansard roof.  It was built two years after the start of the depression-era and three years before the Works Progress Administration started bringing jobs and construction to communities across the country. And although many WPA projects occurred in Paintsville, but the post office predated them all.

Inside, the old post office featured many luxurious features which must have been quite foreign to both rural Paintsville and the Depression period. Terra cotta floors, pink granite walls, and marble baseboards all would have been evidence in the early 1930s of a federal government attempting to show strength and power despite the weakening economy. The year after ground broke on this post office, President Roosevelt would be swept into office and in his first 100 days, the New Deal.

Outside the post office, nearer the corner of Second and College streets, is a blue mailbox. It is the only part of the property still in use by the federal government. For the house is an amazing tale of adaptive use since its conversion to residential use several years ago. The house has been featured in This Old House and on NPR's All Things Considered. 

One can easily see the changes done to the old Paintsville post office by comparing the original floor plan of the main building's first floor with the adaptive reuse floor plan:


Original Floor plan (Courtesy: Kentucky Heritage Council)
Adaptive Reuse Floor plan (Illustration: Michael Luppino)
On the building's rear, a mailing vestibule and mailing platform has been converted into a gardening room, sunroom, and verandah.

The postmaster's office, with its pebble-glass door and stenciled Postmaster, remains as the owner's home office. The old money order office, a dining room; its safe, silver. Originally divided between a public front and a large mail sorting facility, the owner has redesigned the interior while incorporating original design features to create a usable living space. A number of interior photographs are available on the This Old House website.

Sources: Hooked on Houses; Kentucky Heritage CouncilNRHPNPR; This Old House
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