Friday, March 27, 2009

Post office frieze

The frieze over the entrance to the post office on Lee St.

The U.S. government erected this building at the corner of Nelson and Lee streets between 1911 and 1913. The land had formerly been the grand front lawn of the house of Samuel McDowell Reid, built 1824. (The Reid-White house is still there, its original front door now facing the unlovely back of the post office.)

There are three symbols repeated across the width of the frieze: The caduceus of Hermes (two serpents intertwined about a staff with wings), Hermes having been the first symbol of the U.S. Post Office; a torch with a laurel wreath (presumably symbolizing victory); and a third motif, of crossed swords and perhaps a shield or crest, the meaning of which I cannot identify. (If you know what it is, please leave a comment.)

A neighbor of mine likes to say that this building was intended as a symbol of the strength of the federal government in the post-war South. The words "Erected by the United States Government," with the year, figure prominently above the architrave.

1 comment:

m_m said...

I like such details! Great capture of light and shadow!