The Old Post Office Building

Vernon County

The last couple of decades of the 19th century brought phenomenal growth to the town of Nevada, Missouri. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad came in the 1870s. The W.F. Norman Company, known for its manufacture of pressed metal products, including tin ceilings (still in business here and using the same wooden molds), was established in the 1880s, as well as Cottey College. In 1887 the State of Missouri constructed State Mental Hospital Number 3 here, which eventually employed over 1,100 employees. Then in 1897 came the Weltmer Institute. Its founder, Sidney Weltmer believed that healing could be a successful business. He authored the book, “How to make Magnetic Healing Pay,” and practitioners performed mental healing through telepathy and mental suggestion. The institute treated hundreds of people a day, and employed 17 healers and over 100 stenographers and typists just to process the daily mail. The need for a large local post office was evident, and the US Postal Service upgraded the Nevada post office to Class A and constructed a beautiful and commodious building in 1910. The 6,000 square foot building was designed by James Knox Taylor (1857-1929) who was the Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912. Mr. Taylor studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and for a time was partners in an architectural firm with Cass Gilbert. Taylor designed many notable buildings in his time, including the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, Denver and Philadelphia Mint buildings, as well as US Post Offices from New York to San Francisco. Plans to build a new Nevada post office were announced in 1961, and when completed the old building was taken over by the county Sheriff’s Department and the county jail. Eventually a new facility was constructed for the office and jail, and the former post office building was auctioned off in May of 2012 as surplus property. The building has been empty and improperly maintained since then. With the guidance of Missouri Preservation, local museum director Will Tollerton recently completed an eligibility request for the National Register of Historic Places for the post office building and the State Historic Preservation Office found the building eligible for listing, making it likewise eligible for the state and federal historic tax credit. The current owner is interested in selling and any interested buyer should contact the property manager, Mr. Karl Householder at 515.402.7564.

Listed in 2017 and 2018.

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