Postal Square Building Torcheries

Washington, DC

The Postal Square Building was built as a new Post Office to compensate for staff crowding when the newly completed Post Office at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, NW turned out to be inadequate almost from its opening. It was constructed in two phases, the south end completed in 1914, and the north in 1935. The first phase was designed by D. H. Burnham & Co. Architects from Chicago, who also oversaw its construction. It was designed in the Beaux Arts Classical style to mirror Union Station, across the street, which was completed a few years earlier also by D. H. Burnham. The exterior of the building is embellished with ornate brass doorways and surrounds and four massive original bronze torchieres.

In 2007, we were contracted to conserve the brass entryways and the bronze torchieres. All of the decorative elements required historic research to determine the original finishes and to guide the conservation work. All decorative elements were cleaned to remove their deteriorated coatings and superficial corrosion. The surfaces were then patinated to replicate their original appearance and gently worked to reveal their extensive highlights. All of the surfaces were then coated with a protective lacquer finish to protect them from the elements and to extend the life of the conservation treatment. At the completion of the project a detailed report of the work and a maintenance plan were written and submitted to the client.