The Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington DC was built between the years of 1892 and 1899 and wasn’t exactly well received by some people in its younger days. At least one prominent architect of the day called the building ugly. The proportions of the Old Post Office Pavilion were also criticized early on, as the building’s confines soon proved to be too small to sufficiently accommodate what was then the city’s main post office.
The Old Post Office Pavilion, also known as the Old Post Office and Clock Tower, only served as Washington DC’s main post office from 1899 to 1914. After that, it was primarily an office building. During the construction of the Federal Triangle complex in the 1920’s, the Old Post Office Pavilion was nearly torn down. Thankfully, it was saved. We say thankfully mainly because of the building’s clock tower.
Old Post Office Washington DC
Operated by the National Park Service, the Old Post Office’s clock tower rises 315 feet into the sky and offers wonderful panoramic views of its home city. It’s actually the third-tallest building in the nation’s capital. Beneath the observation deck of the Old Post Office Pavilion is the tower clock, which is more than 100 years old. A bit further down on the tenth floor of the tower are the Bells of Congress. These beautiful bells are replicas of the bells at London’s Westminster Abbey and were gifted to the United States by the Ditchley Foundation in England.
These days, the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington DC gets a lot more respect for its design and look. It really is quite a beautiful building and certainly evokes a strong sense of history. You can find the historic structure standing proudly at the intersection of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and there are three different public entrances. One on the front side along Pennsylvania Avenue, one on the east side, and another on the south side. Only the south entrance is open on Sundays. To get to the tenth-floor bells and the tower’s general exhibit area, visitors take a glass elevator. Signs lead the way to the second elevator up to the observation deck.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Old Post Office Pavilion clock tower is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except Thursdays when it closes at 7 p.m. for bell ringing practice. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, the tower is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. On Sundays and Federal holidays throughout the year, the hours are 12 noon to 6 p.m. The tower is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days. Admission is free, and it should also be noted that the last tours go up 15 minutes before closing. To get to the Old Post Office Pavilion, you can take the Metro. The affiliated Metro stop is the Federal Triangle station. Upon exiting the station, you’ll find yourself right on the building’s west side.