Mullett's Monstrosity

The City Hall Post Office and Courthouse

Description
Competition, 1869
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Since 1845, the city's main post office was located in the Middle Dutch Church on Nassau Street, a dark 18th-century building that by the 1860s was stretched past its capacity. After a design competition Alfred P. Mullett was selected to design the City Hall Post Office and Courthouse.Feeling the proposed design was too expensive, Mullett took over the project, which nonetheless cost $8.5 million. This coup may have influenced opinions on his final product. The iron framing was clad with a pale granite quarried in Dix Island, Knox County, Maine.

Constructed, 1880
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On May 1, 1877, during the building's construction, three workers were killed when a concrete slab collapsed, prompting an investigation by the city and a public rebuttal of accusations of misconduct from Mullett.Regarding the building's lack of popularity, The New York Times wrote in 1912: The Mullett Post Office has always been an architectural eyesore, and has, from the first, been unsatisfactory to the Postal Service and the Federal Courts beneath its roof. It was known as "Mullett's Monstrosity".

Torn Down, 1939
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So universally disliked that before it was demolished in 1939.  It turned out to be extremely difficult to actually destroy.  Stories were written about how hard it was.  Alfred Mullett also knew how to build solidly. Because City Hall Post Office went up before the advent of steel construction, it was equipped with walls as much as ten and a half feet thick in places and was made of the sturdiest brick and granite available. Window frames were fashioned of plate armor, the type used to protect battleships. Efforts to pry the walls apart so that the granite blocks could be salvaged were unsuccessful, so the demolition contractor resorted to the usually reliable method of swinging a huge iron ball against them. It only worked part of the time, for again and again the iron shattered. The contractor could not believe it.


Related People
Henry Collins Brown,Brown also negotiated the demolition of the monolithic Beaux-Arts post office building.

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