As his term on the Historic Preservation Commission winds down, former village trustee David Sokol is leading a campaign to have Oak Park’s main post office restored.
“This building is extremely important,” said Sokol during 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 celebrated for its architecture.
Sokol first brought up his desire to have the building restored during the HPC’s May 13 meeting, a pursuit he would like to see put into action before the close of his time as a commissioner.
Its status as a federal building provides complications regarding its restoration, but Sokol told commissioners the building is under threat due to underutilization, particularly its second floor.
Former postmaster Ronald Pusateri recognized the value of the historic building and convinced “whoever he had to convince to put some money in” for some restoration work, according to Sokol. The building has since slipped into a state of dilapidation.
Sokol updated the HPC regarding the post office June 10, telling commissioners that the cause has received much support from the community. He has been directing those who have reached out to contact elected officials.
Other members of the HPC, who Sokol did not name, are working alongside him in the effort to restore the post office.
“We’ve decided to take on a little task to try and reach out in terms of utilization of the space that might help and to check with other post offices that might be in poor condition [to see] what they’ve been doing as well,” Sokol said.
Sokol told the commission that he had met with Brad White, associate director of Alphawood Foundation, which provides assistance to groups concerned with architectural preservation among other matters. White also chairs the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation and sits on an advisory committee related to preservation of post offices, according to Sokol. Alphawood was the major donor to the wholesale restoration of Unity Temple in recent years. Unity Temple sits just across Kenilworth Avenue from the main post office.
“We were urged to contact Cong. Danny Davis, [who] used to be chair of the committee on the postal service,” said Sokol.
Sokol relayed that he had contacted Davis’s office to schedule a meeting to discuss the state of Oak Park’s main post office and received a perfunctory response informing him that the concerns were noted and that someone would get back to him promptly.
“That hasn’t happened yet in 10 days,” said Sokol.
Wednesday Journal has reached out to Davis for comment.