The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the La Jolla landmark one of four post offices in the U.S. to be designated on this year’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, elevating the interest of the building and Belle Baranceanu mural to a national level.
In the same week, on May 31, Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) also announced the WPA-era post office’s designation on its own 12 Most Endangered Historic Resources list, which raises awareness of threatened buildings and sites throughout the county and calls for enhanced historic preservation action of those sites.
“Our community’s engagement and spirit have been noticed, and our story has reached across the country and resonated with other communities facing threats to their beloved post office,” said Lightner. “Residents and merchants can be grateful today for the awareness this will bring to our efforts to save our La Jolla post office.”
Although the designations do not preclude a potential buyer from razing the building and mural, the titles add hurdles to destroying the historical integrity of the building by virtue of elevating its profile as an endangered building.
“It lets potential developers know that there’s going to be a battle if they want to do something to the building,” said task force member Joe LaCava. “It can’t stop them, but it says, ‘Be prepared to fight if you want this building.’”
The USPS has yet to determine the ultimate fate of the post office. The building has neither been placed up for sale, nor its services relocated. At the same time, the USPS has also not applied protections or covenants to preserve the building and mural.
The task force has submitted its paperwork for the building to be placed on the National Register of Historic Structures, which would protect the building’s façade and mural, but the task force has not yet received a definitive answer in that regard.
“We respectfully request that the USPS engage in meaningful conversations with us,” said Lightner. “We’re asking for a transparent and uniform national process from the postal service — one that follows federal preservation laws when considering disposal of these buildings so that we are not needlessly placing the future of many historic post offices at risk.”