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If these walls could talk: the Culver Post Office

March 2, 2013

Getting back on track with our ongoing series of virtual "walks" through the historic buildings of Culver, we're still strolling by some important structures "off the beaten path" of the downtown area proper, whose series we finished last year. We've turned west from Main Street and are dropping by 125 W. Jefferson, the Culver Post Office.

For the record, we haven't the time or scope in this article to focus on the fascinating and lengthy history of all things postal in Culver; instead, we're primarily focusing on the property and its precursors.
Suffice it to say the location of the earliest post office in what is today Culver is unknown, though by the late 1880s, Culverites conducted their postal business in a general store at another site.

As was noted in another article on this page a few weeks ago, a May, 1887 article in the Logansport Pharos Tribune reported quite a bruhaha over the move of the post office to "a brick building near the depot," which was intended to be a convenience to visitors arriving on the train, who previously had to go to Marmont (a walk of some eight blocks, perhaps?). However, a 1903 Culver City Herald article reports the move was thwarted by 1888, which the paper noted was important, since a shift to today's Lake Shore Drive would possibly have meant the "downtown" area of Culver would have been located there.

The post office was in the headlines in 1897 when the town of Marmont formally changed its name to Culver City. In June, 1897, Henry Speyer was appointed postmaster at Culver and announced plans to erect a 10 x 24 foot building on the site of the K of P building, which is to say the east side of North Main Street.

Events of the next few years surely contributed to the eventual need for an enlarged post office here. In 1901, rural free delivery was established in Culver, and the following year the post office at the Maxinkuckee Village was discontinued and merged with Culver's.

By 1907, a new building was under way to house the growing Exchange Bank and the post office alike. The P.O. was moved to the first floor, rear, of what would become the State Exchange Bank building (today's First Farmer's Bank), on the northwest corner of Jefferson and Main Streets. It's interesting to note that a monthly stipend was set up to pay for carrying the mail between the post office and depot on a regular basis. Bear in mind, delivery to every home was still a thing of the future, though by 1914 it was just about set to begin, pending erecting street signs and house numbers around Culver!

In 1925, the post office was temporarily moved to allow renovation of its home in the rear portion of the bank.

In March, 1931, postmaster Clyde L. Shively received a telegram from Congressman Andrew J. Hickey noting Hickey's recommendation for a $70,000 for federal building at Culver.

For the next few years, receipt of the funds was an uncertainty, though along the way an article in December, 1931, noted Mrs. Sadye M. Mclntire of the Culver post office force was "possibly the only town or city woman letter carrier in the United States. There are women rural carriers, but not women who trudge through street after street carrying a weighted amil sack in all kinds of weather."

By 1934, the site of the present building was selected. It had been known, reported the newspaper, as "the Mary Walker corner" due to the presence of what had been known as Walker's Boarding House, which was moved to another site to make room for the post office. The other residence at the site was listed under William W. Baker's name in the 1930 census, though presumably it may have become the Moran house, as it was listed as moved from the site to the Arthur Dillon farm in Sept., 1934.

The Easterday Construction Company, a subsidiary of the James I. Barnes Company of Culver was chosen to construct the new structure at a cost of $37,466.45. The principal decorative feature is a mural entitled, “Arrival of the Mail in Culver,” painted in 1938 by Jessie Hull Mayer, an Indianapolis artist, as part of the Public Works of Art Project.

Culver's "beautiful new post office building" was officially opened for business in Dec., 1935.

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