Downtown Salisbury’s beautiful, graceful federal building turns 90

Ninety years ago right now, the federal building going up on East Main Street in Salisbury was a pile of dirt, foundation trenches and the rough makings of a basement/first-floor. Snow covered the ground, and work was at a standstill on what would one day become one of the Lower Shore’s most graceful, simple and beautiful buildings.

Ninety years ago right now, the federal building going up on East Main Street in Salisbury was a pile of dirt, foundation trenches and the rough makings of a basement/first-floor. Snow covered the ground, and work was at a standstill on what would one day become one of the Lower Shore’s most graceful, simple and beautiful buildings.

Ninety years ago right now, the federal building going up on East Main Street in Salisbury was a pile of dirt, foundation trenches and the rough makings of a basement/first-floor.

Snow covered the ground, and work was at a standstill on what would one day become one of the Lower Shore’s most graceful, simple and beautiful buildings.

Built to hold the local federal court and some some federal agencies/offices, the building had a post office added in 1935 to its west end; to a layman’s eye, the seamless addition did nothing to detract from the structure.

The federal courthouse was moved downstairs in 2003. The courtroom desks and chairs, made of oak, were hand-built in the 1970s by the Wicomico County High School technical education class.

Inside, as many people know — but not all that many people have seen — are some amazing murals.

Three oil-on-canvas murals were painted by Jacob Getlar Smith in 1939. One is titled “Cotton Patch,” another, “Stage at Byrd’s Inn,” a third “Salisbury.”

Commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture at the suggestion of the Wicomico County Historical Society, the artist took his subject matter largely from historical photographs supplied by the Society, thus depicting actual scenes and modes of living in Salisbury in the early 19th century in an idealized manner.

In 1984, U.S. Rep. Roy Dyson asked Congress to name the building after Salisbury’s first female postmaster, Maude R. Toulson.

A popular postcard from the 19203, printed before the post office addition.

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