Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Pelham Post Office Had To Move in 1922

The history of a community's postal facilities typically sheds interesting light on the community's overall history.  The little Town of Pelham is no exception.  Indeed, Historic Pelham has documented a great deal about the establishment and evolution of local postal facilities in the Pelhams.  See, e.g.:

Fri., Sep. 15, 2017:  Pelhamites Wanted Free Home Mail Delivery in 1909.

Fri., Dec. 02, 2016:  More on Famed Pelhamville Druggist and Postmaster Seth T. Lyman and the Building he Built.

Mon., May 16, 2016:  Fatal Fire in 1902 at One Fifth Avenue Burned Down the Post Office and Pharmacy

Thu., Nov. 19, 2015:  Scandal Enveloped Pelham in 1898 as the Postmistress Was Arrested for Embezzlement.

Wed., Dec. 03, 2014:  Pelham Proposed To Build A Town Hall and Post Office in 1857.  

Tue., Jul. 8, 2014:  Account of Devastating Fire at One Fifth Avenue in 1902

Wed., Feb. 19, 2014:  Dedication of the Post Office in the Pelham National Bank Building and More About Old Post Offices.

Tue., Feb. 04, 2014:  Lyman's Pharmacy and Post Office Was Located in the Building That Still Stands at One Fifth Avenue in Pelham

Tue., Jan. 28, 2014:  The Pelham Manor Post Office.

Tue., Jul. 4, 2006:  Seth T. Lyman, Pelham's Own Medicine Man of the Late 19th Century

Bell, Blake, A., The Lyman Pharmacy Building At One Fifth Avenue in Downtown Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 19, May 7, 2004, p. 12, col. 1.

From the earliest years of the 20th century until 1922, the Pelham Post Office that served the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham (Pelham Heights) was located in the Lyman Pharmacy Building at One Fifth Avenue, a structure that still stands.  That building was sold in 1922.  Thus, the post office was moved to a building that was constructed by Pelham real estate specialist and builder John T. Brook.  The building no longer stands, but once was located about where today's building at 87 Wolfs Lane stands.

Pelham Post Office in the Lyman Pharmacy Building at One
Fifth Avenue in About 1910.  The Entrance to the Post Office
is the Door on the Far Right of the Building.  NOTE:  Click
on Image to Enlarge.

In 1922, Seth T. Lyman was still the postmaster of the Pelham Post office located in the Lyman Pharmacy Building at 1 Fifth Avenue.  With the pending sale of that building, plans to move the post office to a new structure nearby -- essentially just across the New Haven Main Line railroad tracks from the Lyman Pharmacy Building -- were put into place.  The only problem was that the new structure was under construction with the possibility that it would not be finished by the November 1, 1922 deadline to leave the old premises.

Only two months before the November 1 deadline for the move, there was nothing but a vacant lot where the new post office building was planned.  Contractor John T. Brook kicked into overdrive to construct a two-story brick building 25 feet wide by 90 feet long.  By Friday, October 27, 1922, the building consisted only of bare brick walls and "unfloored beams."  

John T. Brook offered his construction gang "healthy" bonuses to complete the work in time to move the post office into the building the following week.  The construction crew obliged, working virtually around the clock to finish walls and ceilings, plaster everything, and lay tile floors.  By Tuesday, October 31, all the electrical work including electric lights had been installed, plumbing fixtures had been put in place, and partitions had been erected.  The building was completed and ready for occupancy that day.  

All night overnight the evening of Tuesday, October 31 and into the wee morning hours of Wednesday, November 1, Postmaster Seth T. Lyman supervised the transfer of the "fixtures, etc." from the old building.  Pelhamites never dreamed the work would be completed by November 1, but it was.  Indeed, Pelhamites were surprised on Wednesday morning to see "Business as Usual" in the new Post Office building.  Indeed, the local newspaper reported that:

"Wednesday morning there were a number of letters mailed in the drop box of the old building, many people being unable to believe that the transfer to the new location had been made so quickly."

The villages of Pelham and North Pelham had a new post office.  Postal services were conducted out of that building until they moved into the Pelham National Bank building on November 1, 1936.

*          *          *          *          *

"Pelham Post Office Moves In On Time
John T. Brook Sets Record In Building New Post Office Building
Rapid Growth of Town Has Increased Postal Business Fifty Percent In the Last Year

Pelham Post office is now housed in its new building on Fifth avenue and the pessimists who two months ago saw the vacant lot on which the building now stands and shook their heads when it was stated that the new post office had to be completed by November 1st, are silent in astonishment.  John T. Brook, the builder, is smiling, and the construction crew is happy in possession of healthy bonuses which 'John T.' hung up as an incentive to put the building 'across' on time.  And to them all is due credit, for the building on the fifty-foot lot, comprises two stories and fourteen apartments.

Never was such activity seen before in building circles in the Pelhams.  On Friday the bare brick walls of the interior matched the unfloored beams -- and then the 'gang' went to work.  The store 25 x 90 had to be floored, the front of the store built and glass front put in, the walls and ceilings plastered and finished tiled floor laid, electric lights installed, plumbing fixtures put in place, partitions erected and the place ready by Tuesday.  The old post office had been sold, and the new one had to be ready for occupancy in three days.  Tuesday night, the store was complete.  Postmaster Seth Lyman stayed up all night supervising the transfer of the fixtures, etc., from the old building and Pelhamites were surprised on Wednesday morning to see 'Business as Usual' in the new building with Postmaster Lyman and John T. Brook receiving a host of congratulations for the smart piece of work.  

Thje post office is now housed in a handsome tapestry brick building of Old English style.  There is a main entrance and a side entrance for postal employees and mail delivery.  In the reaar of the office is a rest room and sanitary accommodations.  The new office is well lighted and aired and is a decided improvement on the old building.  

The rapid growth of North Pelham and Pelham Heights which are both served from the Fifth avenue post office is shown by the present volume of business which is fifty per cent ahead of the corresponding period of last year.  The staff of the Pelham station, which is a sub-station of the New York post office consists of Superintendent Lyman, two clerks, five carriers and a special delivery boy.  There are five delivery routes, one being added last year.

Wednesday morning there were a number of letters mailed in the drop box of the old building, many people being unable to believe that the transfer to the new location had been made so quickly.

The new office is designed according to Governmental standards, and considerable surprise was evinced when John T. Brook announced to postal authorities in New York that the building was ready for occupancy and Superintendent Lyman would conduct the post office business in the new location November 1st.

'It had to be done,' was Brook's only comment."

Source:  Pelham Post Office Moves In On Time -- John T. Brook Sets Record In Building New Post Office Building -- Rapid Growth of Town Has Increased Postal Business Fifty Percent In the Last Year, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 3, 1922, Vol. 13, No. 36, p. 1, col. 4.

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