History of the downtown Topeka post office

With the fate of the post office in downtown Topeka up in the air, some people are wondering what could happen to the historic building.

Nicolette Schleisman takes us through the building’s past.

On the third floor of the post office in downtown Topeka, behind these doors, there is a piece of history that led one District Court case on the path to change America.
“When the Brown case was first heard it was heard here in Topeka,” said David Smith, Park Superintendent of Brown V. Board of Education.
Court cases are no longer heard in the old courtroom. You would not know it was an important site for the original Brown V. Board of Education, except for a plaque at the entrance of the room.
“The enabling legislation for this park instructs us to interpret all of the different civil rights stories here in Topeka, I feel that the post office story, that court case is really important to what we’re trying to say here at Brown,” said Smith.
According to the Kansas Historical Society, the Federal Government owns the building, and while the building is eligible to be a historical site, it was never declared one.
Now that the post office is talking about closing down at that location, some wonder what could happen to the building.
“This is the main post office for Topeka, so obviously we are very interested it continues in operation if possible. And if for some reason they do sell it, we’ll be working very closely to be sure that it is used in a manner that will be most effective and appropriate for downtown,” said Vince Frye, President and CEO of downtown Topeka Inc.
“The building is an anchor for downtown. Historically, it’s a beautiful structure. We’re proud to have something like that in Topeka,” said Smith.
It is a piece of history in downtown Topeka waiting for the future.
In 1937, a special agent with the FBI was shot and killed near the post office. Special Agent Wimberly Baker was shot while trying to catch two bank robbers at the Topeka post office.

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