building of the week – waukesha post office (rotunda building)
Key Project Information
Address: 235 West Broadway Avenue, Waukesha
Year Built: 1913
National Register of Historic Places Designation:
Architectural Style: Classic Revival/NeoClassical
Architect: Oscar Wenderoth
Historical Use: Post office
Current Use: Multiple Resources of Waukesha
The Post Office building is one of the best remaining examples of Classic Revival architecture in Waukesha, with the carefully balanced classical ornament of the exterior being continued into the interior lobby to form an impressive architectural space. The building is well suited to its triangular site and serves as an important local landmark.
The supervising architect for the Post Office building was Oscar Wenderoth. A Philadelphia native, Wenderoth was employed in the office of the U.S. Supervising Architect in Washington D.C. in 1897. In 1907 he was promoted to the post of Chief Draftsman and in 1912 was appointed head of the U.S. Supervising Architect office. Wenderoth assisted in the preparation of plans for government buildings, mainly post offices. 1
Dominating the design is a semicircular portico, supported by six fluted Doric columns. This semicircular façade contains the central entrance, capped by a large transom and entablature. The entablature of the portico continues around the remainder of the building and pilasters further articulate the façade and unify the design. Inside, a colonnade of red marble columns with gold Corinthian capitals encircles the interior lobby. A shallow dome with a copper roof raises above the main mass of the building, and lets light into the lobby through a stained glass skylight.
The post office was constructed in 1913 as the first federally owned post office in Waukesha’s history. It served as the Post Office from 1914-1962. It then served as a bank until 2001, when the building was renovated and opened and a premier banquet and meeting facility “The Rotunda.” 2
For a virtual tour of The Rotunda space, click the following link:
1 Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Waukesha Post Office, Waukesha, Wisconsin, Reference Number 16812. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/