Designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886), the Old Post Office is one of Washington’s significant Romanesque Revival buildings on a monumental scale. It was the first Federal building erected on Pennsylvania Avenue in the area now known as the Federal Triangle. In 1891, the office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, planned to erect the Old Post Office. At the time of its completion in 1899, the building’s 315-foot-high clock tower was the third highest in Washington, exceeded only by the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
The building served as the District of Columbia’s general post office until 1914, when operations moved to a new building next to Union Station. For decades later, the building served a variety of government-related functions. Throughout its history, the building has been threatened with demolition many times. When plans to demolish the building crystallized again in the early 1970s, many protested and lobbied against the demolition, including Don't Tear It Down or what is known today as the DC Preservation League. A nomination to the National Register of Historic Places succeeded in 1973, and plans to demolish the building were replaced with plans to preserve it. Renovation took place between 1979 and 1983. The building expanded between 1988 and 1992, before being redeveloped as a hotel in 2014.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: April 11, 1973