Sunday, October 21, 2007

Square Neighbor Building Hits Milestone

Federal building turns 75
Once Post Office, Courthouse is of historic design
The E. Ross Adair Federal Building and United States Courthouse is celebrating its 75th year serving our nation, state and community of Fort Wayne. Today it stands as a less remembered symbol of public faith and fortitude turning back the tide of difficult times in which it was envisioned and built. It is a statement in stone also to the durability of our federal democracy and the rule of law.
Ground was broken for the Fort Wayne Post Office and Federal Building on Sept. 8, 1931. It would replace Fort Wayne’s first post office-federal building constructed in 1889 at Clinton and Berry streets. Just over a year after the groundbreaking, the new building opened with great fanfare on Oct. 29, 1932.
Our Adair federal building-courthouse is an architectural monument. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a notable and superb achievement of the Public Buildings Act of 1926, which allocated more than $165 million for federal building projects. The Treasury Department’s architect’s office promoted the “starved” or “stripped” classical style – a simplification of more elaborate, ornate or extravagant styles associated with classical architecture. This soon became the “federal style.”
Stop one day and take a look. You will see both a superb example of the federal style and an exquisite example of American expression. It should be visited and experienced by all to celebrate our history and our respect for dignity, order and beauty.

Federal building marks 75th birthday
Judge William Lee has written a book about its history
When the federal courthouse and then-post office opened in 1932 on South Harrison Street, the Great Depression was in full swing. Times were tough. Not like when the dramatically ornate Allen County Courthouse was built in the 1890s.

“This building was designed to be a relatively modest statement,” said U.S. District Judge William C. Lee of the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, which is celebrating its 75th birthday this year. Lee has worked in the building for some 30 years — 26 on the bench — and has produced a book documenting the history of the building. On Friday, the public will have a chance to see, and photograph, this piece of Fort Wayne architectural history.
a $7 million renovation project modernized the building while preserving much of the building's original style. The exterior stone and metal work was restored, as was the downstairs hallway, once belonging to the post office. A new courtroom and offices were added, as well. Once concession was made, Lee said, to accommodate central air-conditioning duct work — lowering the second- and third-floor ceilings.