Renaissance on Centre Street
Time had been nibbling away at Fernandina’s old post office, a dominant landmark building downtown at 401 Centre Street (corner of North 4th Street). The building is a beautiful example of Italian Renaissance Revival-style architecture, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stamps Were 2 Cents
Over a hundred years old, this Fernandina post office has been around since stamps were two cents. According to Florida Memory state archives, “the building was officially dedicated as a federal customs house/post office in 1912, but likely was built in 1911.”
Slated For Closure
Back in 2013 uncertainty loomed when the U.S. Postal Service announced this location was slated for closure as a postal facility. However, appeals were filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission, postponing the closing. (Related article, “Fernandina Beach Efforts To Save Historic Post Office,” August 2013.)
Fernandina officials reached out to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) for assistance. He stepped forward as a proponent of preserving the old post office.
The Last Four Years
In a state of disrepair, areas of the historic building’s façade was literally crumbling. Then, an about face occurred toward the end of 2015, when the U.S. Postal Service notified the city that they would move forward to fix the building. The work reportedly was done under the National Historic Preservation Act.
Restoration efforts to stabilize the structure were ongoing during 2016 into the first quarter of 2017. Pictured above in the summer of 2016, scaffolding and cranes were a common sight at the Old Post Office during its renovation.
Now the story has evolved into what appears to be a happy ending on the horizon. While its days as a U.S postal office are likely limited, perhaps Fernandina will acquire the remarkable building, one way or the other. Best case scenario? If the U.S. Postal Service gives it to the city, as mentioned by Senator Nelson in remarks made during an interview with a Jacksonville TV news station.
City Revisits Desire To Acquire
Wanting to acquire the old post office building is not new. The city of Fernandina Beach had in previous years considered purchasing the building. Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge prepared an in-depth analysis “Historic Report and Feasibility Study” for the city commission in 2010. The estimate to renovate the historic building and bring it up to code was well over $3 million at the time of this report.
The city wishes to have the Old Post Office building for its downtown government hub. Currently, the Fernandina City Hall offices are located a few blocks away downtown at 204 Ash Street.
When interviewed by ACTION NEWS JAX, CBS 47 TV news station, Senator Nelson stated:
“I want to see them [Federal government] sell or give the old post office building to the city of Fernandina Beach and they can use it as their city hall.”
Also watch Fernandina’s city manager, Dale Martin, discuss the old post office by visiting website, ACTION NEWS JAX.