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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "Postal Memories From The Past" Story

Postcard that had been mailed in 1910
It was an ordinary day.  Looking at a book I had purchased a few years ago at a "yard sale" titled Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Post Cards.  Wasn't long before I came across an old post card that read under it … "Lancaster's ornate Moorish and Renaissance Revival City Hall was originally built as the Post Office."  The postcard had been mailed in 1910.  As I studied it I realized the building was across the street from St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster on North Duke Street.   Sometimes parked in front of it when I went to church at St. James.  I never knew it to be anything but Lancaster's City Hall, but as I looked at the old post card, I realized it was built originally as the post office.  
Another old postcard of the 1930 Post Office
Did some more reading and found that the Post Office that I knew was opened 20 years later on the first block of West Chestnut.   Thought I should take a photo of what I knew to be the Post Office during my lifetime so I headed downtown.  The building in front of me, as I snapped a photo opened in 1930 and was where my father's father, my grandfather Joseph, died in an accident when a mail package fell from above him and killed him.  
My recent photograph of the 1930 Post Office.
This building was built of Indiana limestone and is 15 bays wide and two stories tall with a one-story rear wing.  The design for the building came from the Office of the Supervising Architech, an agency of the United States Treasury Department that was responsible for designing federal buildings from 1852 to 1939.  The location of this building used to be where the Lancasterian School Building once stood.  Today it's only a branch building with the Postal headquarters now on the Harrisburg Pike, west of the city.  
One of the main entrances into the 1930
Post Office.  I can remember entering these
doors with my mom many times to buy
stamps and mail letters.
At one time there were a row of stores and offices across the street from this Post Office on Chestnut St. where a jewelry supply house known as Meiskey's was located.  The same store where my father worked after returning from WWII.  Tough to imagine working every day in a spot where you could look out the window and see where your father died years before.  This building now serves as a branch office of the US Postal Service as well as home to a few local businesses. It was sad to see the Post Office move to a more convenient and larger location, but the second Lancaster Post Office will always remain in my mind as the place where my mom and I visited for stamps and to mail packages.  Time goes on, but history is never outdated in the minds of those who lived it.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

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