Preservation Commissioner aims to restore Oak Park post office
As his term on the Historic Preservation Commission draws to a close, former village administrator David Sokol is leading a campaign for the restoration of Oak Park’s main post office.
“This building is extremely important,” Sokol said at the June 10 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
Built in 1936, the two-story art deco building, 901 Lake St., has since fallen into disrepair, but Sokol ranks it among the “architectural treasures” of Oak Park, a village famous for its architecture.
Sokol first mentioned his desire to have the building restored during the CHP meeting on May 13, a lawsuit he would like to see implemented before the end of his term as commissioner.
Its federal building status complicates its restoration, but Sokol told commissioners the building was at risk due to underuse, especially of its second floor.
Former postmaster Ronald Pusateri recognized the value of the historic building and convinced “anyone he had to convince to put money” for restoration work, according to Sokol. The building has since fallen into disrepair.
Sokol updated the HPC regarding the post office on June 10, telling commissioners the cause had received a lot of support from the community. He asked those who contacted him to contact elected officials.
Other members of the HPC, whom Sokol has not named, are working alongside him to restore the post office.
“We decided to take on a small task to try to reach out in terms of using space that might help and to check with other post offices that might be in bad shape. [to see] which they did too, ”Sokol said.
Sokol told the commission he met Brad White, associate director of the Alphawood Foundation, which provides assistance to groups concerned with architectural preservation, among others. White also chairs the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation and sits on an advisory committee related to the preservation of post offices, according to Sokol. Alphawood has been the main donor of the Temple of Unity wholesale restoration in recent years. Unity Temple is just across Kenilworth Avenue from the main post office.
“We have been invited to contact Cong. Danny Davis, [who] was chairman of the postal service committee, ”Sokol said.
Sokol said he contacted Davis’s office to schedule a meeting to discuss the condition of the Oak Park main post office and received a summary response advising him that the concerns had been noted. and that someone would respond quickly.
“It hasn’t happened for 10 days yet,” Sokol said.
The Wednesday Journal has contacted Davis for comment.