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The Old Post Office, located at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, was completed 1899 as an attempt to revitalize the neighborhood between the Capitol building and the Whitehouse. Its strong arches, broad columns, and 315 ft clock tower make it the third tallest building in the District of Columbia. Interestingly, the Old Post Office is also the first government building to have its own electric power plant made to drive over 3,900 lights. Just 15 years after the building’s completion, a date for its demolition had been set initiating a series of struggles for the building’s survival. When the Postmaster General moved across the street to the newly constructed postal building on 12th Street, the Old Post Office served as overflow space for government agencies. Due to the onset of the Great Depression and subsequent lack of funds, the plan to raze the building was halted. 40 years later, in the early 1970′s, these plans were revisited. Fortunately, the D.C. Preservation League in collaboration with Nancy Hanks, then head of the National Endowment for the Arts, were already working to preserve older monuments in the Washington D.C. area. As one of the rare, remaining examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, the Old Post Office was included the National Register of Historic Buildings and was consequently preserved.
Today, it thrives as the Nancy Hanks Center (renamed after Nancy Hanks’ immense efforts for preserving the Old Post Office). The Old Post Office has been renovated into an office and retail space used by both federal government and private businesses. Its lobby now houses several shops, restaurants, and a vast entertainment space. For more historical information, visit the renovated clock tower, complete with an extensive history of the building and artifacts from its life. While at the Old Post Office Pavilion, take some time to enjoys one of the most varied, International selections of restaurants that Washington, D.C. has to offer.