The former post office in Batesville is in the town area known as Public Square, and is one of the more imaginative and attractive post office buildings constructed under the New Deal administration. The slight arch of the recessed windows and the dentil detail alone make the building stand out.
The railroad bisected the square, and runs parallel to this street. On the day I was there, a large Farmer’s Market was operating on the Square, and it was very active for a very hot day, but reflected what a public space in any town should: service to and use by the community. The Postal Service appears to have lost sight of that fact in its efforts to both sell and close historic post offices throughout the country–a major loss to their communities.
The mural that occupied this building–Cotton Plantation, by Eve Kottgen, completed in 1942, is now hidden from public view, last known whereabouts on the work floor of the new post office building where it was moved in 1998 (livingnewdeal.org). Of course, as has been discussed previously here, the depiction of the South was not always welcomed–then or now. One photographer reported visitors to the mural were welcomed, and another, that he was not allowed on the floor, but the postmaster took a photograph for him. Although none of the photographs were particularly clear and visible, the best one is at newdealartregistry.org. (Addendum: a better photograph is visible in the link to the article “Windows on the Past.” )
The fate of the murals in the Berkeley, CA, and Bronx, NY, historic post offices remains unknown at this point as the post office proceeds with its plans for closure and sale of the buildings against the wishes of their communities. It is a preservation issue (and a postal service issue) that may be coming to your town sooner than you think.
The one-story brick building has a basement, accessible from the front of the building. Letitia Parham Wright (National Register of Historic Places nomination form, February 15, 2003) described the features:
a copper visor over the front entrance…recessed windows…decorative dentil work around the top perimeter and between recessed window openings…iron railing on front facade.
The architect, as many of the other New Deal post offices in Mississippi, was Louis A. Simon, Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury. The builder/contractor was H. D. White & Company, from Chicago (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database). The building currently houses a law office.