MIAMI (CBS4) – At the corner of Northeast 1st and 1st in downtown Miami sits the 100 First Avenue Building. It is for sale.
It has balconettes with wrought iron railings, intricate eaves and scrolled facade work, and a clock that will turn one hundred years old next year.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Scott Silverman, a judicial and architectural history buff, goes out of his way to walk past the four story structure.
“This has always been one of my favorite buildings downtown,” Silverman told CBS4′s Gary Nelson. “It’s got style, it’s got class, and it’s loaded with history.”
It was Miami’s first brick and mortar post office. It still has the original American eagles on its steel doors, original brass plated elevator doors and original mail drop in the restored lobby.
Photos in the State of Florida archives show mail workers sorting the city’s first air mail in the building the year the first airplane came to Miami.
The building served as the post office and the United States courthouse, as well as housing the National Weather Service and immigration offices when it opened in 1912. Woodrow Wilson was elected to his first term as president that year. Henry Flagler completed his railroad to Key West. The year after the building was constructed, the 16th amendment to the constitution was ratified, creating the federal income tax.
A marker outside the imposing structure documents the hurricane of 1926 that killed hundreds of people in Miami and left thousands homeless, but the granite and concrete federal building survived the storm.
The classical revival style building is an original, one-of-a-kind structure that was designed by government architect Oscar Wenderoth, who resigned his post soon after the project was completed. Perhaps he felt he had hit his pinnacle.
The old post office lived through a ragtime era of Model T’s, titillating bathing beauties and bootleg bathtub booze.
In 1937 the building became the First Savings and Loan Association of Miami – the first savings and loan to be chartered in the United States.
Over the years a variety of businesses have come and gone, most recently a thoroughly not historic Office Depot store.
The building has been vacant for a year and a half and is on the market.
With downtown starting to grow, owners think it might make a great restaurant and night club, or a prestigious address for a major law firm or architectural company.
Tony Arellano, of Metro 1 Properties, the brokerage firm handling the sale, said a boom in people and businesses moving to downtown Miami makes the old post office building an attractive property.
Because it is on the National Register of Historic Places, the exterior of the building may not be touched, except for restoration work.
Inside, though, Arellano said a new occupant can “create any ambiance they want, provided that they appreciate the historical significance of this building.”
Arellano said the building’s owner, Scott Robins, who has restored several historic buildings in Miami and Miami Beach, is being selective in entertaining prospective buyers or lessees.
“They need to be serious, with significant financial resources, and serious about preservation,” Arellano said.