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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

United States Post Office
380 Hamilton Avenue

post office
Inventory photo Photo taken from other end of building.


The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1985:

Physical appearance:   A deliberate and successful attempt to avoid the classical modes usually associated with government buildings of the period, this Spanish Colonial Revival design was allowed only after the intervention of Birge Clark's clients, then-President Hoover and his wife.

In 1981 the steps at one end were replaced by a wheel-chair ramp.

Significance:  The Spanish image of the building, with its historic and local associations, successfully challenged the long-standing habit of choosing classical designs for government buildings. For the architect, it displayed more influence of the Mission style than any other he created.

The decorative features are especially effective. Civic discussion of the project began in 1927; problems of securing government funds, satisfying owners of residences demolished to clear the site, and raising additional money to complete the transaction by public contributions delayed the start of construction until mid-summer, 1932.

It was dedicated as a national landmark building in May, 1985.


Birge Clark ramp
torch lamp name
arcade hanging lamp
mail boxes plaque
eagle interior
window corner
historic photo map
Historic photos of Birge Clark and post office from the Palo Alto Historical Association Guy Miller Archive Location map


This structure was built in 1932 and is a Category 1 on the Historic Buildings Inventory and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The architects were Birge Clark and David Clark, and the builder was Albert Nelson of San Francisco. The property measures 225 by 150 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto Times 5/14/27, 12/16/30, 9/18/31, 10/26/32, 12/17/32, 9/5/33, 5/22/85; Birge Clark Commercial Inventory; Santa Clara County Inventory; Palo Alto Historical Association Archive


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