Bar Harbor Post Office

The Bar Harbor Post Office was entered onto the National Register for Historic Places on May 2, 1986 [1], and as a federal government commission was affected by two government policies. The first was the omnibus public buildings law in 1902 [2] which was a congressional policy to approve the building, remodeling, purchasing, and budgets of multiple public buildings [3] through construction standards based on the area’s geography and population [4].  The second was the Tarnsey Act [5] enacted in 1893 which allowed private contractors and architects to bid on public jobs lobbied as a way to save money and increase the quality of work because under the original process the supervising architect created all designs and oversaw all jobs [6].


At this time, the Supervising Architect for the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Construction [7] was James Knox Taylor who served from 1898 to 1912 [8]. During his tenure, federal architecture was influenced by the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and its French “Beaux Arts” designs [9]. Taylor was known for a Greek and Roman style that employed large lobbies and entrances, and although Taylor’s designs tended to circumvent design standardization [10], the Bar Harbor Post Office’s architecture, as with most government buildings, reflected ideals such as leadership and democracy [11].

By Marisa Higgins

[1] National Register of Historic Places. US Post Office—Bar Harbor Main, Bar Harbor, Maine. National Register #86000880.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Western Contractor. “Status of Public Building Construction.” September 12, 1914, 26 no. 174.

[4] National Register of Historic Places. US Post Office—Naugatuck  Main, New Haven, Connecticut. National Register #86000130.

[5] Register #86000880; National Parks Service. “Determining the Facts – Reading 1: The Federal Building Program.” U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed November 29, 2015.

[6] National Parks Service; “The Tarney Act.” The New York Times. August 21, 1912.

[7] This office, after its formation, became known simply as the Supervising Architect’s Office (1)

[8] National Parks Service; The U.S. National Archives and Record Administration. “Document for July 11: ‘U.S. Post Office, Wichita Falls, Tex.’ By James Knox Taylor, architect, July 11, 1910.”National Archives: Today’s Documents from the National Archives. Accessed December 2, 2015.

[9] Wikipedia. “World’s Columbian Exposition.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. accessed December 08, 2015. ; National Parks Service.

[10] Register #86000880

[11] Ibid; National Parks Service.

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