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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the following National Register of Historic Places nomination files: “United States Courthouse, Custom House and Post Office" (with photographs; also known as "Pioneer Courthouse") in Portland, Oregon; “U.S. Post Office and Federal Building” in Denver, Colorado; and “United States Post Office, Court House and Custom House” (with photographs) in Louisville, Kentucky. All three buildings are owned and maintained by GSA. The lesson was written by Brenda K. Olio, former Teaching with Historic Places historian, and edited by staff of the Teaching with Historic Places program and GSA’s Center for Historic Buildings. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history, social studies, government, civics, and geography courses in units on the growth and role of the federal government, the U.S. court system, federal architecture, urban growth, city planning, and preservation policy. 
Time period:  Mid-19th to mid-20th century
United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To describe the functions of federal government buildings such as courthouses and post offices and discuss how these buildings impact the communities they serve.
2) To examine federal building design from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.
3) To explain the role of the U.S. General Services Administration in preserving and managing historic government buildings.
4) To conduct research and prepare presentations on government buildings in their local area and their impact on the community.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The lesson can be used in its entirity or in pieces. The map and images appear twice: in a smaller version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) One map of the United States showing locations of the three featured properties;
2) Four readings on the federal building program and the featured properties;
3) Six photos of the featured properties.

Visiting the site
The U.S. Courthouse, Custom House and Post Office, now known as Pioneer Courthouse, is located on Pioneer Courthouse Square at 700 S.W. Sixth Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204. For more detailed directions visit the Court Information page of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit website.

The U.S. Post Office and Federal Building, now known as the Byron R. White U.S. Courthouse, is located at 1823 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado 80257. For more detailed directions and hours of operation visit the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals website.

The U.S. Post Office, Court House and Custom House, now known as the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House, is located at 601 W. Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky 40202. For detailed directions visit the Western District of Kentucky website.



Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.