Modesto law firm moves into historic downtown post office landmark

jnsbranti@modbee.comJune 18, 2014 

Downtown Modesto’s historic post office is open again, but don’t try mailing letters there.

A law firm has moved onto the main floor, just beyond the building’s artistically famous lobby.

The El Viejo post office at 1125 I St. was a landmark for 78 years before the federal government closed it in 2011.

The architecturally rich building then was auctioned off to private investors and remodeled for offices. Its first tenants – McCormick Barstow LLP attorneys at law – now are settling in.

The firm’s 17 staff members shifted over from offices on the 12th floor of Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel.

“Everyone is excited to be a part of the history here,” said Loura Erickson, one of the firm’s attorneys. “It’s pretty much like a new building for us, and it’s working out beautifully.”

But don’t worry: The structure’s classic, original features and treasured artwork were preserved.

The Depression-era oil paintings by Ray Boynton and his assistants remain on display in the lobby, which the public can visit during work hours.

A sampling of the original bronze post office boxes are there for admiring, too, along with all the Corinthian pilasters and arched entryways with travertine columns. The elaborate cast-iron light fixtures with griffins continue to grace the entrance.

The lobby has a clean look to it now, and the 8,000-square-foot law office is equipped with modern amenities. A couple of original bathroom fixtures were kept, however, to remind folks this building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“They did a very nice job of keeping the old architecture,” said Erickson, who is particularly partial to those classic, locking P.O. boxes that once held mail.

Gina Windorski, the law firm’s receptionist, said that even though the postal service left three years ago, folks still wander in looking to buy stamps.

Visitors are welcome to visit the lobby, but they won’t find any postage.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.

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