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La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Archive Record

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Object Name Print
Catalog Number 2015.fic.364j
Description Post Office
Collection La Crosse County Historical Society Collection
Title Post Office
People Nudd, Chris
Search Terms Post Office
Notes Part of a series of 15 prints by Chris Nudd "La Crosse Scenes".

Text with print:

"Post office service in La Crosse has been materially increased since postal facilities were first extended to La Crosse in 1844 when Nathan Myrick was appointed postmaster and who at that time was placed on a par with congressmen in having free postage.

In 1844 Myrick wrote, "I was appointed postmaster under President Tyler's administration, and it was at my suggestion that the "Prairie" was left off and the office called "La Crosse."

The post office at that time was located in the Levy building, a wood frame structure along the river front. Little mail was handled, the few inhabitants of the village receiving only a letter now and then, brought to town by stage.

In those days the postmaster served double duty as carrier, often carrying the letters in his hat and delivering them in person whenever he chanced to meet the recipient on the street.

During the early years the Post Office was moved to various locations. In 1861 it was moved to the northeast corner of 3rd and Main where it remained until 1870. It was then moved into a corner room of the McMillan, Bliss and Sill Building at 3rd and Main where it remained for 10 years. In 1880 it was moved to the Gile Building in the Southeast corner of 4th and Main.

In 1890 it was found that the business was increasing to such an extent that larger quarters were necessary. Several sites were considered, and finally the government decided upon the present location, the northeast corner of 4th and State Streets.

Previous to the erection of the post office in 1891 the site was a hill, upon which stood a small white frame house. The house was moved away, and the vacant lot was used for small circuses and medicine shows. The contract for the erection of the Government building was awarded to Royal Reynolds, a local contractor. A railroad track was constructed along the north side of State Street, connecting with he Milwaukee Road at Front Street. Building material used in he structure was conveyed by train to the Post Office site.

When the present building was completed, it was thought to be sufficiently large to accomodate the city's needs for all time. Since then it has become a first class office, and receipts have constantly increased. Additional room was needed, and the building was remodeled and enlarged twice in 1911 and 1933.

The addition to the north side of the building was completed at a cost of $162,000. The general exterior design of the new wing conformed with that of the original building. Red dry pressed bricks were used, and the trimming was of sandstone. The only noticeable difference between the old and the new buildings is the difference in the height of the towers. The tower on the new addition to the north is not as tall as the one on he southwest corner of the old structure. The interiors of both the addition and the old structure are finished in oak.

Oscar Berg was the first parcel post delivery employee. He pushed a two-wheel cart through the business district to deliver parcel post matter and used street cars to expedite service to residential districts.

In 1913 the post office started delivering the parcel post in a two-cylinder chase truck. The vehicle had no windshield and no rear door and in order to get it started, ether had to be used.