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  • Mike

Visiting the Bay City post office and courthouse.

At 1000 Washington Ave in Bay City sits a large, yet often overlooked building that is both a historical and architectural point of interest in Bay City. Set in the heart of downtown Bay City, this building sometimes blends in a little too well. So I decided to photograph it as best I could in hopes of sharing the beauty and history that is this building.

The building is several stories tall and serves as a combination of federal court building and US Post office in a single building. The first floor houses the post office while the second two floors are owned by the federal court. Thanks to overbearing judges and unfair orders that only serve to divide those who can afford justice and the rest of us, it is illegal to even photograph the hallways in the upper floors since they are a federal court facility. This includes days when there is no court in session. Furthermore, the public is not permitted to even carry a cell phone onto the courthouse floors. I took a Bird scooter here which requires a cell phone to pay for and activate the ride. But once I get to the courthouse I now have to magically disappear my phone. My documents were on my phone yet were unable to be submitted or referenced because I cannot even bring my phone to the clerk's office. This is a separate issue that deserves it's own post but is the reason why there are only photos on the first floor.

Starting off with the exterior of the building we can see that it is a sort of stripped classicism or beaux arts classicism architecture. There are hints of art deco that are especially evident inside but the overall government look that comes with the starved classicism architecture that was common back when this building was built in the 1930's is central.

Artistic use of columns and pillars adds a lot of details around what would otherwise be bland features of the building such as window sills and doorways.

There are also quite a few decorative motifs around the building that you really need a zoom camera lens or binoculars to see the detail of.

You would never see the details here from street level without some optical assistance.

There is a lot of detail as well at different level transitions, symmetry and dividing lines are a nice change of pace from the common brutalist architecture that we see in most US Post Office buildings.

Here you can see the very reduced decorative columns that are built into the building face. Despite not being full columns there has been a great deal of attention paid to the decorations on the capital of the modernized columns and trim.

The petals and flowers sometimes appear Corinthian but some other decorative elements stray into a wide variety of styles.

The grounds themselves are very well landscaped and present a feeling of a park or plaza rather than a government building.

Signage and some of the areas like loading docks look very aged but also give us a glimpse into the past of both the postal service and in my opinion give a feeling of nostalgia as a millennial.

There is some modernization however with what is clearly an extension on the back of the building. However they clearly tried to cover up the least possible of the original and more beautiful building.

Inside the building is a wonderful preservation of the original look of the original post office.

Magna Images has a PO box at this post office and I love the old style PO boxes with letters instead of keys.

I really love the use of natural light combined with the old hanging lamps. The wood and window frames are something that you don't see much of today after so many renovations that most buildings of this age undergo.

Lastly of interest is the fact that the building basement was a fallout shelter during the Cold War and I'm really glad to see it stay up for new generations to take notice of. With the current conflict in Ukraine and the rising fear of nuclear war it's good to be reminded that this isn't something that we are dealing with for the first time.

Overall this building is worth checking out. If you're sightseeing in Bay City I highly suggest you buy a stamp, take some pictures, take a stroll around the lobby and admire the building. then by all means feel free to walk all the way around the outside of the building. Then admire some of the other beautiful buildings nearby like the county building, city hall, and the old Pierre Marquette depot.

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