Saturday, July 28, 2012

Road Trip 2012: Chapter 3; Old and New, Part I

I've made a point on this trip, for the first time, of visiting the center of all relatively large towns to find its former post office site, which is invariably from the early 20th century and likely constructed by the WPA. On several occasions I've gone in and analyzed how the building is used today.

So now, dear readers, for many cities around the southeast, I present to you Old and New:

Former site: Salem, Virginia post office
Old Salem, VA post office

Current Salem, Virginia post office:
Salem, VA post office

Former site: Roanoke, Virginia post office [and courthouse]
Old Roanoke, VA post office and courthouse

Current Roanoke, Virginia post office:
Roanoke, VA post office

This building is fantastic because it includes an apparently full reconstruction of the [very, very] old Roanoke window and Postmaster's office.

Old Roanoke, VA post office
Old Roanoke, VA post office

Former site: Winston-Salem, North Carolina post office
Old Winston-Salem, NC post office

Current Winston-Salem, North Carolina post office:
Winston-Salem, NC post office

This location was also a P&DC before operations were consolidated into neighboring Greensboro, NC.

Former site: Statesville, NC post office [and courthouse]:
Old Statesville, NC post office
Operations were moved to the outskirts of town:
Statesville, NC post office

Downtown operations were replaced with a CPU, which is reputedly the second highest-grossing such operation in the state:
Statesville, NC: downtown post office / CPU
They have room for two clerks inside and the largest set of P.O. Boxes you've ever seen outside of a classified location.

Former site: Newton, NC post office:
Old Newton, NC post office; now Old Post Office Playhouse

The location is now the town's "Old Post Office Playhouse". Current site: Newton, NC post office
Newton, NC post office

The former post office in Brevard, NC is now a library:
Old Brevard, NC post office; Brevard Library

The current Brevard post office is less glamorous:
Brevard, NC post office

And that's just the first set!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Road Trip 2012: Chapter 2; I-81

The Travelodge in Chambersburg, PA hosted my first evening of my trip. It was rather uneventful, though I enjoyed the breakfast voucher for the diner next door. My initial intent was to spend the night in Winchester, VA, but so long as I ended up in Roanoke that evening I'd be happy.

Now, onto post offices:
Heading to the post office in Falling Waters, WV, a former site -- now an ice cream shop -- made itself immediately apparent. Not many dairy stores possess a flagpole, have a rear loading dock, and make extensive efforts to abide by the ADA:
Old Falling Waters, WV post office

Here's the present site:
Falling Waters, WV post office

From Falling Waters I'd visited every post office south for 50 miles, and I eventually found myself along Route 11 paralleling I-81 and Shenandoah National Park. Here's a map of some locations featured:

The post office in Woodstock is still at its historic 1933 location. It featured beautiful roof tiling and pinkish-hued brick grout.

Woodstock, VA post office:
Woodstock, VA post office
Woodstock, VA post office
Woodstock, VA post office

A detour to the western mountains lead to Bayse and Orkney Springs. The former location has one of the longest handicapped ramps I've seen.

Bayse, VA post office
Bayse, VA post office

A couple of miles down the road, Orkney Springs was on the RAOI 'Hit List' and is slated to become a two-hour office. The Postmaster was really friendly and introduced me to the town. It hosts The Virginia House (Shrine Mont), at which all the bigwigs stayed in the early 20th century.

Orkney Springs, VA post office
Orkney Springs, VA post office

The post office used to be located in this house:
Old Orkney Springs, VA post office

This is the old resort, a recognized National Historic location:
Old Orkney Springs, VA resort

Next up was Fulks Run, near a formation known as Chimney Rock (not the Chimney Rock in North Carolina!). The PO in Criders was on the Hit List last year so I drove the 15-or-so miles one way and back, through Bergton -- rather small itself -- to find it.

Bergton, VA post office:
Bergton, VA post office

Criders, VA post office
Criders, VA post office

The old collection box at Criders is the oldest I've ever seen. Peering under the bottom you can see that it was manufactured in 1924. It was forged in Danville, PA.
Old postal collection box

Two offices later was post office #3,500: Timberville, VA.

Timberville, VA post office

Another photogenic office was Lacey Spring, VA:
Lacey Spring, VA post office

Woodrum Station in downtown Staunton, VA, is a New Deal post office from 1935. The site has been renovated and the post office operates only the right half of the first floor; the New Deal sculpture is outside the door.

Staunton, VA: Woodrum Station [downtown] post office

Night two was spent in Salem, VA, outside Roanoke.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On the Road: Going Postal 2012, Day I

Howdy, folks! Evan here in western North Carolina, where the hills are smoky and the folks are really friendly. I've been on the road since last Sunday and have already visited 153 post offices, large and small. This trip will take me all around the country and I'm excited to show you what I've seen! Especially with my brand new 30x-optical zoom, 18-megapixel, high dynamic range-enabled Sony camera.

(No, the trip is not just about post offices. It's about experiencing America -- ballparks, cities, national parks, farmlands, and good local food. That said, since the rate of post office suspensions will only continue to accelerate courtesy POSt"Plan", post offices still need to be documented and Postmaster stories collected.)

Where to begin? Well, the first office on the trip was the... err... illustrious Dover, NJ Carrier Annex off I-80:
Dover, NJ Carrier Annex

When I was in middle school my family took a trip to Chicago, and one of our first stops was the post office in Buttzville, NJ and a great place called Hot Dog Johnny's. The post office was located in a former gas station, and has since been suspended. I recognized the site this time around:

Former site: Buttzville, NJ post office:
Former Buttzville, NJ post office

Check out Hot Dog Johnny's. Fresh fries, great shakes. It was completely packed.
Hot Dog Johnny's
Hot Dog Johnny's

Beautiful post office of Sunday: Phillipsburg, NJ, built 1933. Amazing brickwork. Check it out: Phillipsburg, NJ post office
Phillipsburg, NJ post office

In Allentown/Bethlehem, PA, I found both the current and former site of the Lehigh Valley post office and P&DC:
Lehigh Valley Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) and Lehigh Valley post office

The former site is now known as the Airport Branch or Airport Annex of Bethlehem:
Bethlehem, PA: Airport post office

After that, a torrential downpour took out most of the potential postal photography time, as these clouds foreshadow:
Allentown rain

And that's just day 1! There's plenty more for the next installment of GP 2012.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Signs of the Times

Well, Signs of the Dates to be precise. In exploring the rural post offices of Pennsylvania I came across several offices which, under POSt"Plan", are slated to become two-hour PMR-operated locations. Each was being studied for closure under RAOI last year. Each also has another nice aspect: the sign for the post office tells us just when it was established.

Here's a map of the places featured:

Parryville, PA post office:

The Parryville post office, according to USPS's Leased Facilities Report, has been at 177 Main Street since 1961. I always love the ones that share residence with people's homes. The nice stonework porch leads us to the patriotically colored sign for the post office...

It's a mark of pride to the town that they've had an operating post office since the early 1800s; May 30, 1818 to be precise.

Fisher, PA post office:

Located in a photogenic, hilly corner of PA, Fisher has the longest Saturday hours around: presently 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Yet I still couldn't find my way there the first time I tried to find the town nearly three years ago. I caught up with Fisher one Sunday morning last autumn; the post office is housed with the general store. The sign notes that the location was established August 20, 1860.

Cambra, PA post office:

A house and real estate office share a building with the Cambra post office, which has a fantastic hand-painted sign declaring its date of establishment -- 1822.

Talmage, PA post office:
The thing about this blink-and-you-miss-it post office, located within a mile of the Brownstown P.O., is that you'll probably miss it even while staring right at it. It's located at the side of a house obscured by hedges. The only indications are the pole-mounted collection box -- which looks like you could pick it up and spirit it away (you can't; trust me), and the sign. At least it's a sign with character.

Now this is what I'm talking about: "serving our community".

Jersey Mills, PA post office:
This one was fantastic. Jersey Mills is located in a dispersed string of three post offices along the Pine Creek Gorge northwest of Williamsport; other POs are Waterville and Slate Run. Each was an RAOI office last year. The Jersey Mills location was incredibly photogenic, sandwiched between the main road and a bike trail used by locals and tourists alike. There's a sign facing either line of traffic. And it's a good thing, too, because if it weren't for the sign, you'd just see an ordinary-looking red house with a worn driveway.

Again, gotta love the old-style collection box: