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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

The Government Building (1)

The Government Building (1)


The three story brick building, in the Romanesque Revival style, has small gabled dormers in the hipped roof, windows and entrances with arch surrounds, and Italianate brackets under the roofline. Several men are seen in front, one with a bicycle commonly referred to as a "bone shaker."


Full Details

TitleThe Government Building (1)
Current AddressNo long exists
Pre 1912 AddressBlock bounded by Lyon, N. Division, Pearl and Ionia Streets
ArchitectWilliam Appleton Potter, Supervising Architects Office of the U.S. Treasury Dept. 1874-1877
ContractorJohn R. Stewart, Superintendent of Construction
Date ConstructedCompleted 1879
Original OwnerFederal Governement
Original UsePost Office, Internal Revenue, and US Court officers
Information SourceThe History of the City of Grand Rapids by Albert Baxter. 1891

Referred to as the Government Building in Baxter's history, it was also known as the U.S. Court House and Post Office.
Congress appropriated $212,000 in the fall of 1878 for the structure and the site.
The building is often attributed to James G. Hill, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Dept. from August 1876-1883. Since the Government Building was constructed during his tenure he would have been the supervising architect, technically, but the building was designed by Potter. Potter's 1876 design, shown in the American Architecture and Building News, does not include the Italianate brackets beneath the roof-line nor the gabled dormers. Those may have been added to the design by Hill.
The Federal Building, which replaced the Government Building in 1909, was designed by Supervising Architect James Knox Taylor, 1897-1912. Later that building was occupied solely by the Post Office. It then became home to the Art Museum but as of 2008 stands empty. The same plans were used for a government building in Dayton, Ohio.

CollectionThomas Dilley
Locationlocation on map

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