"Neither snow nor rain..."

Hole in Post Office roofTraditionally this "unofficial postal motto" ends as follows:
"nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

It could also be finished as:
"nor lack of maintenance shall keep our Post Office whole."

You see, in this case there is indeed a hole—or more likely several—in our Bridge Square Post Office roof. They have been there for well over a year.

Given my interests*, it should not come as a surprise that I noticed a hole in the roof as I was walking by one day. I notified the Postmaster in November of 2004 and thought that it would be fixed shortly.

The wheels of government turn slowly sometimes...

Interior damageThe roof did not appear to be patched yet, so the other day after buying stamps I looked into the stairwell, opposite the mural over the PO boxes, to see if there was any damage. Not surprisingly, there is extensive plaster damage visible. Who knows what else is invisible inside the walls?

I talked to the Postmaster again to see what was being done about this; she informed me that there is a work order being processed.

Perhaps it should not surprise us that a building of this age needs some work done. After all, it is 70 years old. I can only hope that the repairs will be appropriate to the materials of this historic building, well done, and complete soon.

In my professional experience, these WPA era buildings are some of the most well built structures around, certainly more so than many post war buildings of the 50's, which is not opinion or preference, but fact based on the circumstances of their construction. There was plenty of time to keep people employed during the Depression and buildings tended to be carefully built as labor costs were low. However, after the war buildings could not be built fast enough to keep up with the pent up demand.

History lesson aside, I hope that one of Northfield's finer public buildings gets the attention it deserves.

*Steve Wilmot is an Architect at Northfield's SMSQ Architects, Inc.

Editor's note: Postmaster Margie Jacobson said Tuesday that all work on local post offices is handled through a regional facilities repair office, so she doesn't have authority to have the work done. She has reported the roof problems, but she understands why the project isn't a priority.

"Right now they're concentrating on getting the post offices open down in Louisiana," Postmaster Jacobson said. She didn't have a specific number, but said Hurricane Katrina destroyed many post offices and damaged many more. The need is so great that it's straining Postal Service resources throughout the country.

Author's reply:
I recall her saying something like this before, and it certainly sounds plausible, and terrible that so many Post Offices were destroyed. However, I would have expected a "work order" to have been placed long before Katrina hit. I guess this goes to show that this roof repair has never been a priorty - although intuitively one expects that it would be, to mitigate internal damage. This is part of my concern, or frustration with the postal repair process.

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Local efforts ?

It would be nice if we could just raise some $$$ here in Northfield rather than waiting for the P.O. to fund and fix it. After all, I'd rather see them stay in that building than see them move out along Hwy 3 in a few years because the downtown building was too expensive to repair.

Good story, good work

I really enjoyed this story.

It's a very bad sign when our governmental bodies are so tied up in pointless red tape that a literal _hole in the roof_ doesn't get fixed for years. A crying shame that it's come to this.