Indianola Post Office

Indianola Post Office front elevation

I have been planning to visit the Indianola New Deal Administration post office for over 3 years…and this year is the Year of the Great Mississippi Road Trips to the Delta region.  The Indianola post office was built in 1935 in an Art Moderne style.  Nancy Bell (June 2, 2008) in the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places, Indianola Historic District, described an exterior stucco chimney, although it was not visible to me from any of the locations I could access.  The center doors have a concrete surround, and there is a belt course below the top portion of the front wall.  I suspect the single door at the left of the building was originally a window; it is now the handicap accessibility entrance with a ramp.  I am always happy to see a New Deal post office still in the center of town and serving the community.

George Biddle, an artist, contacted his former college friend, President Franklin Roosevelt with an idea to promote art and artists, and the concept of “art for the people” resulted with the first relief project, the Public Works of Art Project operated under the Civil Works Administration.  Other art projects followed, such as the Federal Art Project operated under the Works Progress Administration (1935-1943) and the Treasury Relief Art Project from 1935-1939.  The post office art spending ended in 1942 and was not resumed after the war.

Beulah Bettersworth’s 1939 mural “White Gold in the Delta” originally hung in the Indianola Post Office.  The mural was destroyed in the 1960s during post office renovations.  You can see a black and white photograph of the mural at Jimmy Emerson’s page on Flickr.  Emerson has photographed many of the post office murals in the US.

Update October 22, 2017:  Following Beth’s questions below, I did a bit of additional searching and turned up some information about the 1960s remodeling.  Approval to “enlarge and modernize” the Indianola post office was granted in July 1960 (Greenwood Commonwealth).  In addition to “modernization”–a word that has come to scare me used in conjunction with historic buildings, an extension to the rear and west side were approved.  Following the near completion of the new post office, the Indianola Enterprise wrote:

The only fault, if it is a fault, is in the shape of the building, and the way it sits on the lot.  A few feet to the west so as to line up with the buildings on the north side of Percy street, and a few feet back, would have added to the appearance.  (Uncle Sam’s New Post Office, 27 June 1935, p. 1)

During the renovations in 1962, the post office added the new wing to the west, a basement for a fallout shelter, and the west end–which housed the taller portion of the building, became the center entrance, relocated from the east end of the original building.  E. L. Malvaney designed the extention to the building.  Because of November rains, a canopy of plastic sheeting affixed by a tin roof and wooden framing, was utilized to proceed with construction.

1962 renovations

Delta Democrat Times, 4 February 1962.

The_Enterprise_Tocsin_Thu__Nov_21__1985_

1950s photograph of original design. (Enterprise-Tocsin, 21 Nov 1985)

There is no indication of when the current canopies were added.

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This entry was posted in Art Moderne, Historic Downtowns, Mississippi, Mississippi Delta Towns, New Deal Administration, Post Offices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Indianola Post Office

  1. Beth says:

    The red awnings jumped out at me and reminded me of the blue ones installed on the post office in Eupora. They were not original to the building and I can’t remember when they were installed, perhaps after 1975. I would love to see an original picture of this post office to see if they were there. And, of course, I lament the destruction of the mural although it would probably be regarded as culturally insensitive now. Thanks for this post!

    • Suzassippi says:

      It is like Eupora, isn’t it? I did not think about that, although it seemed strangely familiar, and now I know why! The awnings looked fresh and not faded, so even if they were previously installed, they have probably been replaced–possibly at several points considering the heat and sun in that area. Perhaps someone who knows will weigh in!

  2. Suzassippi says:

    I located some additional information on the post office renovation, and will add it to the post.

    • Beth says:

      Love those pictures! Did you go inside? I’m wondering if it is in the usual layout with the enclosed vestibule (is that the correct term?).

      • Suzassippi says:

        I did not go inside, although I will on my next trip–I want to see what “modernization” did for the inside. My guess is took out the vestibule (if it had one) and changed the small windows to a large counter with pull down screen. I hope I am wrong, but somehow, I doubt it. 😦

  3. Pingback: First Baptist Church of Indianola | Suzassippi

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