Then & Now – Downtown Post Office

Over the past 96 years, downtown Riverside has seen 2 main post offices built, the first in 1912 and the second in 1939.

c1950s - 2008 - Downtown Riverside Post Office
c1950s – 2008 – Downtown Riverside Post Office

Flash: Downtown Post Office – Late 1950s – 2008

First came the 1912 Federal Building/Post Office located on Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue). Sporting Italian-Renaissance architecture, the building served as the city’s main post office for nearly 30 years. Afterward, the building became the headquarters for the 4th Air Force during World War II. Later uses included housing the city’s police department*, and currently, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

The second downtown post office, located a few blocks away on the northeast corner of Ninth and Orange streets, came online just as World War II was beginning. Built at a cost of $175,900, this later version sports Spanish-Mission architecture with Art Deco/Moderne-influenced designs inside.

Seen in photos approximately 50 years apart, this second post office remains an architectural gem in downtown today. Note in the 1950s photo the lack of trees but a hedge which still remains today. Note also that Orange Street is a two-way street as opposed to today’s one-way between University Avenue and Fourteenth Street.

Finally, visible in the far right background of the earlier photo is the First Baptist Church. Located at the northeast corner of Ninth and Lemon, the church site today is home to a 5-story building constructed in the late 1980s.

Flash: Downtown Post Office – Late 1950s – 2008

* Photo courtesy of RPD Remembers

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, The Press-Enterprise, “Colony for California” (Tom Patterson)

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  1. I’ve never really thought about this before, but there are clear similarities between the stripped-down Spanish Colonial Revival/Moderne style of the Post Office and LA Union Station [1939, John and Donald Parkinson]. Obviously Union Station is more monumental in scale and interior detail, but the expression is very similar.

  2. (Pub: Aug. 11 2008)
    Funny, we too were thinking of the similarities between the Riverside Post Office and LA’s downtown Union Station when compiling the entry. Both buildings are a unique mixture of the sleek and elegant designs found in both styles.

    Situated among several ornate historic buildings, Riverside’s downtown Post Office is often overlooked and even a bit under appreciated. Though by no means glamorous, the interior alone is worth a trip inside if only to get a better feel for buildings from that time period (and in particular, those built by the government).

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