new United States Customhouse and Post Office was opened for public
inspection on June 23, 1894, and was visited by approximately 5,000
citizens during the day and evening. It was built on
Boonville Avenue between Pine and Central Streets. It sits on
what is now the Chestnut Expressway.
The entire structure is made of limestone in the Richardsonian Romanesque
style of architecture, characterized by round arches and vaults.
It contains towering stone turrets and gargoyle waterspouts. The
south wing is topped with a turret and tower from which National
Weather Bureau flags were flown. The site was chosen after fierce
dialog between the northsiders and southsiders about where the city
should locate the structure. The northsiders won, with their site
being chosen over a site at the corner of
St. Louis and Jefferson.
The entire first floor of the building was the United States Post
Office, with the postmaster's business office in the southeast corner.
The first floor is made entirely of marble. The office of the internal
revenue collector was immediately in front of the second floor landing.
The opposite side of the second floor contained the office of the
local weather observer. The United States land office occupied rooms
six, seven and eight on the second floor. The land records were
kept in a fire-proof vault on the second floor. The United States
marshal, the district attorney and a witness room completed the
The third floor contained the courtroom, which the Democrat
(newspaper) describes as having too small a capacity to allow for
the crowds lured by interesting cases. The court library and court
offices also make up the third floor.
The "government building", as it was called, was remodeled and enlarged
in 1914 and the photograph on the second
postcard was obviously taken after this because it shows an
area on the back (northwest) side of the building, which is not
there in the earlier postcard. The small turret was also removed
from the northwest corner of the building when the expansion was
On May 16, 1922, a fire broke out in a storeroom of the Weather
Bureau, causing $35,000 in damage. Walls and furniture on all three
floors were damaged.
The building served the United States government until 1938. In
that year a new federal building directly north of the old site
was built. The post office, federal courts and other government
offices moved into the new Federal Building and the city obtained
the old building, renamed City Hall. The first City Council meeting
was held on October 10, 1938, just one day after it became City