National Register #81000175
United States Post Office
380 Hamilton Avenue
This Mission/Spanish Revival post offices was designed by Birge M. Clark who also designed several of the buildings in the
Ramona Street Historic District. The following paragraphs are excerpted from the
Birge Clark web page of the Palo Alto History Project.
Birge Clark’s father was an architect, Stanford Professor and mayor of Mayfield. A longtime friend of Herbert Hoover, Arthur Clark constructed
the future president’s home in 1919 with assistance from young Birge....
He was also immensely talented. In his early days, Clark worked almost exclusively in the fairly short-lived, but locally popular architectural
style, variously referred to as Spanish Colonial Revival, California Colonial or the closely-related, Mission Revival. Although there were
variations, the style most often consisted of stucco wall, red clay roof tiles, cast concrete ornaments and wrought iron grilles. Popular between
1915 and 1931, this romantic fashion caught on in many places with a Spanish past --- Florida, Texas and especially California....
But while Spanish motifs may have been all the rage in 1920s California, things were a little different back East. Presenting his blueprints
for Palo Alto’s post office to the nation’s postmaster general in Washington, Clark was ridiculed. As long-time employee and associate Joseph Ehrlich
tells the story, “The postmaster pushed them away and said, ‘Don’t you know what a U.S. post office looks like? We expect a stately building with
neo-Romanesque columns showing the power of the federal government. I cannot approve this design.’…Birge responded, ‘Ok, but I don’t think the
President and First Lady are going to be pleased with the design change.’” After revealing that the Hoovers had already approved the plans while
Clark was breakfasting with his old friends that morning, the postmaster had a sudden change of heart and approved every blueprint in front of him.