The historic Downtown Station post office in Burbank, California was constructed in 1938. The Los Angeles area has the nation’s second-largest concentration of WPA art, after New York City. This postal branch is graced by a two-panel mural saluting the city’s most famous industries–filmmaking and aeronautics. Titled “People of Burbank,” the 1940 work by Barse Miller fits in with the building’s tile and wrought-iron Spanish mission motif.

The Downtown Burbank Post Office is an eclectic Mediterranean-styled building containing elements of the Spanish Colonial Revival, the Mission Style, and the Pueblo Style. The building was designed and built in 1937 by Gilbert Stanley Underwood. He was one of the most successful Los Angeles architects during the 1930s. He received numerous federal commissions for large projects, notably the Los Angeles Federal Building and Courthouse and the Lost Angeles Terminal Annex Post Office. The Burbank Post Office is an important example of the architect’s smaller buildings.

The front entrance is marked by an arcaded loggia, with an irregular, picturesque massing. The public lobby is decorated with two Treasury Department Section of Fine Arts murals, depicting elements of Burbank’s Economic Base. Distinctive exterior features include an arched entry façade with a tile floor and exposed beam ceiling; recessed windows, some of which have wrought iron grates, others with rustic wooden shutters. The building also contains a mural, painted in 1940 by Barse Miller. The murals depict two of Burbank’s primary historical industries, “Aviation” and “Motion Picture Filming.” A noted painter and educator, Miller received several federal commissions for murals in the 1930s and early 1940s, and his work is included in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in the National Museum of Art in Glasgow, Scotland.

• Architect: Gilbert Stanley Underwood
• National Historic Site (85000127)
Visited: 10/11/2020