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Raleigh Post Office Renovation Brings Back 1800's Charm

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh's Cenury Postal Station was also the first federal court house in North Carolina. It's still used for bankruptcy court.

"It's such an important building in the agency's history," said GSA Historic Preservation specialist Jeff Jensen.

But not too long ago, there was talk of closing it down. Then came talk of opening up the Fayetteville Street Mall. With those revitalization plans and the dramatic increase in the number of bankruptcy cases, the federal government has since decided to commit $4.5 million to restore the building.

Downtown development leaders say it's a key decision for their new "main street" look.

"It's really going to be a novelty for folks to differentiate what an old building was versus what a new building looks like outside of downtown," said Jensen.

The government will redo the post office and restore the bankruptcy courtroom to its 1915 look. It will also get rid of this office space and recreate an even older courtroom that once existed on the third floor.

Intricate molding and wood floors found four levels below will be a focal point once again. Chief Bankruptcy Judge J. Rich Leonard went through more than a dozen boxes of historic documents in Washington, D.C., to try to get an accurate representation of what the building once looked like.

"To know where we are going, we have to know where we've been," said Leonard. "To understand when people come into courts today, they are part of a tradition of democracy."

Leonard found the original work orders in those boxes. In 1874, each chandelier cost $60. The replicas will cost $27,000 each. The entire project could be done by the end of 2006.

Fayetteville Street is expected to be open to traffic by spring. A dedication ceremony is being organized for June 10th.


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