History of the Stroudsburg Post Office
June 06 , 2010
An Oct. 2, 1933, photograph of the construction of the Stroudsburg Post Office at 701 Ann Street.
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association
The Postal Service in the United States has a long history. Beginning while we were still a British colony, the first record of an American postal service appeared in 1639 in Richard Fairbank’s tavern in Boston, Mass. Governor William Penn established Pennsylvania’s first post office in 1683. Before this time, colonists often relied on friends or hired private citizens or Native Americans to deliver mail. Interestingly, native peoples called letters “talking leaves.”
The Post Office Department (predecessor of the U.S. Postal Service) was created by an act of the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. Benjamin Franklin was chosen as the first Postmaster General. While the position was new, Franklin was not new to the duties of this appointment; in 1737, a 31-year-old Franklin had been appointed by the British Crown to serve as Philadelphia’s Postmaster. In typical Franklin style, he made many improvements to the postal system including: beginning night rides; laying out shorter routes, and placing milestone markers along the roads. In 1774, the Crown dismissed Franklin because of his colonial sympathies.
According to the archives in Washington D.C., the first Post Office in Stroudsburg was created shortly after 1800 with Daniel Stroud serving as postmaster. The first returns were made to Daniel Stroud on April 1, 1803. Over the years, the Post Office was moved to various locations around Stroudsburg. In 1884, it was located at the corner of Main and 7th Streets. By 1915, the building was at 567 Main Street, and in 1928, it was located at 22 South 6th Street.
In 1847, U.S. postage stamps were issued, and the first shipment of stamps was sent to Stroudsburg on September 29, 1851. The shipment was received by Postmaster George H. Miller and included 2,000 three-cent stamps. Anyone wishing to receive or send mail had to go to the Post Office. It wasn’t until November 16, 1908 that mail carriers provided the first home and business delivery of mail.
On March 4, 1931, the United States Congress authorized the purchase of land in Stroudsburg to build a Post Office building and set aside $130,000 for the entire project. After searching for a suitable location for the new federal building, a plot of land was purchased at 701 Ann Street for $26,200. Stroudsburg businessmen George H. Craig and Murrell R. Kiefer were the architects and J.H. deSibour of Washington D.C. served as the consultant. The building was constructed by the Girard Engineering and Construction Company of Philadelphia with a cost of $87,000.
Three years later, the large art deco structure was completed, and on June 21, 1934, it was officially dedicated. United States Postmaster General James A. Farley traveled to Stroudsburg from Washington D.C. via train to speak at the dedication. Farley arrived at the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Station in East Stroudsburg. The dedication ceremony and dinner were held at the Penn Stroud Hotel (now the Pocono Inn Towne) with Judge Samuel E. Shull serving as toastmaster. More than 500 Monroe County residents attended, in addition to Laurel Blossom Festival Queen Violet Camille and her royal court of 17 princesses.
Monsignor C.A. McHugh of Mount Pocono opened the event with an invocation and Postmaster Farley made a lengthy speech. Postmaster Farley started by thanking the community and acknowledging the ambition of the residents of not only Stroudsburg, but of the entire county for creating a successful and prosperous community. Farley continued to discuss everything from a description of each office in the Post Office Department to the financial stability and profit and loss reports for the Department over the years.
Also in attendance was Monroe County native Clinton B. Eilenberger, who served under Farley as Third Assistant. Eilenberger spoke briefly to the crowd about his pride in helping to establish a permanent Post Office building in Stroudsburg. He also stated his hopes of having a similar building constructed in East Stroudsburg. Stroudsburg Postmaster Harry Oldorf also spoke to the crowd and acknowledged that the new building would be a great improvement over their current operations room which measured only 15-by-20 feet.
Following the dedication ceremonies, most of the 500 attendees walked to the new Stroudsburg Post Office to tour the building. The building was situated between McMichael Creek and Ann Street and measured 1,000 feet 4 inches by 68 feet 10 inches. The construction was limestone and featured two granite lamps and ornamental exterior aluminum doors. The interior featured seven-foot granite wainscoting and terrazzo flooring. The building opened to the public on July 9th, and Carroll Doll sold the first postal stamp from his window.
Throughout the years, other federal offices occupied the building. Not only was the Post Office located inside the building, but (according to the 1963 city directory) so too were the Army Recruiting Station, the Selective Service Board, the Internal Revenue Office, the Marine Recruiting Service and the U.S. Department of Agricultural Extension Service.
In 1967, the building was renovated, and an addition was added to the 7th Street side. While under renovation, the Post Office was temporarily located at 1189 West Main Street at the old Yankee Ribbon Mill. The new addition was built of a limestone exterior to match the original edifice, and 6,000 feet of office space were added. Today, the Stroudsburg Post Office houses only postal business.
The structure is a fine example of art deco architecture which was very popular in the 1930s in the United States. From its structured lines to the decorative railings and windows, this building represents an interesting and relevant architectural style. The next time you visit the Stroudsburg Post Office, take a moment not only to admire the beauty of this historic building, but to think back to the long history of the Postal Service in America.