5/22/2009 10:56:00 AM Englewood Post Offices Span 113 years
This Englewood Post Office was originally an army barracks at the Venice Air Base. It was located at the northwest corner of Elm and Dearborn Streets.
Ken Kocab Contributing Writer
Since August 18, 1896 , Englewood residents have been served by a local post office. Mail for the few permanent residents of early Englewood was brought to El Jobean by boat from Punta Gorda. Local resident Wilbur Lampp then loaded the mailbags onto his horse, and made the ten mile ride to the Englewood Post Office. This first post office was located in the back of the Lemon Bay Trading Company on Yale Street.
John S. Gibbons was Englewood's first postmaster and initially operated a 4th class operation. The government designated ratings for all post offices based on the volume of mail and sales at each location. From 1896 to 1916 eight different postmasters oversaw day-to-day operations at the Yale Street location.
In 1912, local resident Peter Buchan was hired as caretaker of the Lemon Bay Trading Company, at the same time he also appointed Englewood Postmaster. By 1916 Buchan built his own store at the intersection of Dearborn and Olive Streets on Lemon Bay. Buchan then moved the post office to the new store, and remained postmaster until 1921, when he gave up this position to his wife Florence.
During the years Florence Buchan was postmaster, business seemed to slow down. "On a good day we sold stamps for about six letters," said Buchan. Postal authorities noticed the situation and threatened to close down the Englewood branch. Local residents organized and began mailing grapefruits to each other to increase the volume of mail. This plan seemed to succeed, and the Englewood post office continued to operate.
In 1928, the post office was moved from Buchan's Landing, to Ziegler's General and Hardware Store on Dearborn Street. Mary Green was appointed new postmaster that year, and in 1929 totaled $1,200 in postal receipts at the Ziegler Store location. Because of this increase, postal authorities raised Englewood to a 3rd class operation.
The post office remained at the Ziegler Store until 1946, when an Army surplus barracks building was moved from Buchan Field to the corner of Dearborn and Elm Streets. This structure was converted into a post office, and for the first time, Englewood had a post office housed in its own building. There was no mail delivery at this time, so the new building housed over 400 boxes for people to come in and pick up their mail. In 1951, postal receipts climbed to over $8,000 a year.
By 1959 , the Englewood Post Office on Elm Street definitely needed more space. It was at this time a new location was found in the former Sears store on Dearborn Street, across from the old hardware store. The old location on Elm Street was torn down. In 1961 Florence Johnson was appointed postmaster and remained in this position until her retirement in 1980. Johnson was responsible for modernizing Englewood's post office operations. By 1962 the Englewood branch had collected over $56,000 in receipts and was finally designated a 1st class operation. Florence initiated Englewood's first home delivery and even formulated the routes that carriers would take. One big problem for mail delivery was the lack of street names and house numbers. Florence organized a very successful effort for residents to put up house numbers, and for street signs to be put in place. By 1970, postal receipts at the Dearborn Street location had reached $200,000, and space was once again a problem. A large modern post office was built on River Road with plenty of room for parking. Englewood post office operations are still run from this location today.
After having a post office in the heart of Englewood ever since 1896, currently there is none located in the Olde Historical Village. Betty Nugent, President of SHORE, (Southwest Historical Organization Resources Education) and local activist, feels the current River Road Post Office is fine, but that a satellite version in the Historical Village would be helpful for local residents. "We need our post office back to serve both the older and newer generations in Englewood," said Betty.
I would like to credit the following sources in writing this article:
Betty Nugent, Interview, 5-7-09
Josephine Cortes Speech given on Englewood History, 1961.
"Florence Johnson was Englewood's Longest Serving Postmaster", by Diana Harris, The Englewood Sun May 9, 2009