United States Post Office/Lancaster Main Post Office

Site: N20-4. Municipality: Lancaster, NH. Location: 120 Main Street Site Type: Post Office UTMs: Z: 19 E: 295060 N: 4929040

National Register Nomination Information:


The Post Office is located on the broad and spacious Main Street of this community in an area devoted principally to public buildings, four churches and monuments. A large motel adjacent to the Post Office site is a distracting commercial intrusion in an otherwise pleasant and well maintained sector of the town which lies just beyond the commercial and business district. All properties have considerable space around them and the Post Office, which is situated close to the street, commands a noteworthy prominence.

Brick laid in common bond is used for a sub base and major wall areas; a base course and water table are made of coarse granite as is the window trim, string course and cornice. A projecting center portion of the building is embellished with six engaged columns of fluted granite with capitals carved in relief. Two large multi-paned windows of steel fame flank the entrance, which has a new aluminum and glass door and sidelight, which along with a concrete ramp for the handicapped with its profusion of black pipe railing, upsets the symmetry of the front. The two original lamp standards remain in place which seem inappropriate here; better suited to a classical façade where they are so often used.

The lobby appears to be in its original state except for the light fixtures which have been replaced by fluorescent ones. The floor is quarry tile of variegated colors in a pattern of art noveau origin and the wainscot is also made of quarry tile in the same coloration. Plaster walls with latticed metal grilles above the service window and boxes and simpler plaster cornice complete the interior treatment of this space. An original wood and glass vestibule remains, but here again, an element that is often used in post offices of classical design, seems out of place in this building of definite 1930 modernism.


The architectural design of this Post Office is most unexpected, especially so being located in a small northern New England town. A prime example of so called "starved classicism," it does not suggest the classic or colonial revival designs that were so prevalent at the time, but evokes design parameters that were responsible for sophisticated modern work seen in large urban centers. Probably the only example of art deco expression seen in a public building in the area, this Post Office is a significant contributing building to the town and region.


History of Post Office Construction 1900-1940, July, 1982

Craig, Lois, ed., The Federal Presence: Architecture, Politics, and Symbols in the United States Government Building, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1979.


Ellsworth H. Kent, Architect
Sullivan Design Group, Inc.
44 Adams Street, Braintree, Massachusetts 02184

August 29, 1985