Listed on the National Register both individually and as part of the Downtown Brookhaven Historic District, the Brookhaven Post Office is an impressive building. It’s also surrounded by impressive buildings, including the First Methodist Church and the Whitworth College campus (now Mississippi School for the Arts) across the street. In fact, I think the corner of Cherokee and Jackson streets is one of the finest corners in small-town Mississippi. Don’t disagree with me until you’ve stood there yourself.
Here’s what the MDAH Historic Resources Database has to say about the Post Office and its interesting mixture of styles.
Built in 1912, the Post Office is a unique building in Brookhaven. No other structure in the town embodies the characteristics of the Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance, and Mission styles. Constructed by the Treasury Department, the Post Office was designed by James Knox Taylor (Chief Architect) and Louis A. Simon (Supervising Architect). Because very few post offices were built in Mississippi during this period, the designs attributed to James Knox Taylor are very rare in the state. The building is located across the street from Whitworth College, Mississippi’s first women’s and third oldest college, which together with the post office forms the town’s most architecturally significant group of institutional buildings.
Let’s head inside and see whether it meets the standard set by the exterior. First we encounter an arcaded porch, not as deep as a “real” porch, this one is more for dramatic effect and provides extra cover in inclement weather.
Stepping inside, we find a large airy space full of light, white-painted plaster, arches, a coffered ceiling, and bustle (although I waited for people to get out of my pictures, I had to wait quite a while in some instances, not to say glaring at people to move). There’s a pleasant absence of color, except in the post office boxes themselves, a light-colored marble wainscot, and the black-and-white terrazzo floor. And of course the garishly blue plastic recycling bins.
As far as I could tell, the interior (at least the lobby) retains pretty much all its original hardware, light fixtures, and furniture including this sweet wood writing table. Not sure if that clock is original, but it seems to fit pretty well into the round space.
Here are a few more details of the interior. Next time you’re driving down I-55 down in this part of the state, swing off into downtown Brookhaven, have a look around, and step inside the post office. You’ll be glad you did!