Maplewood, NJ, may lose its perfectly Modern post office
February 18, 2014
The Maplewood Township Committee has announced plans to demolish the 1958 Maplewood Post Office and sell the site at the center of town for private redevelopment. A larger “Transit Village” type building is being planned to replace the post office. According to citizens following the developments the Township Committee is not interested in reusing or repurposing the post office—for either historical or sustainability reasons—even though it remains intact as originally designed and built and fully functional (addition of barrier free access at the entrance is the only significant modification). The post office lease expires in May 2014.
The post office was designed for the GSA by Albert O. Pollitt (1892–1958), a Maplewood resident and 1952 president of AIA-NJ Suburban Society of Architects (now AIA Newark & Suburban). It opened to significant fanfare in 1958 including a parade and the presentation of a flag flown over the Capitol in Washington, DC. The Durand-Hedden House and Garden Association, which acts as Maplewood’s historical society, has mounted an exhibition on the history of post offices in the area and offers this description of Maplewood’s contribution to local mid-century Modern: “The rectangular form of the 1958 Maplewood Post Office and the broad expanse of windows set into a grid of aluminum covering much of the façade illustrate the influence of the International Style in postwar public building. Nothing projects from the plane of the building—there are no moldings or sills—not even steps at the entrance. Elements of the building are reduced to a grid and panels. The warm beige color of the brick and the blue-green granite trim soften the effect of the hard lines of the building’s design.”
A local organization of pro-active citizens called Engage Maplewood is endeavoring to facilitate increased community oversight and input and initiate dialog between the Township Committee and the public on this important publicly owned site in Maplewood Village. The group’s website has details of the redevelopment plan, current news and a petition to the Township Committee.
Correction: This post originally reported that the exhibition was prepared by the Maplewood Historical Commission when in fact it was mounted by the local historical society.