by James Rada, Jr.
Emmitsburg Waits Seventy-three Years for a New Post Office
The effort for Emmitsburg to get its current post office took nearly thirty years. At that point, the people who had started the push had passed on.
Many long-time residents of Emmitsburg will remember the post office when it was located on the southwest corner of the square. The building served as the post office from 1893 to 1966, according to The Gettysburg Times.
In the beginning, the building remained a private home and the U. S. Post Office Department paid rent for the front room of the home. As the town grew, so did the business in the post office.
A group of people in town decided in late 1937 that the volume of business handled by the post office warranted a government-owned building like many other communities were getting.
When U.S. Senator Millard Tydings was approached about the possibility of getting a new post office for the town, he said that he couldn’t back anything unless there was a petition and request sent to the Post Office Department.
A group of citizens, with the backing of the Emmitsburg Burgess and Town Council, circulated a petition and quickly collected 170 signatures.
“It is understood that merchants and other business men of Emmitsburg are sending in separate letters to the Post Office Department urging the claims of the town to this building,” the Catoctin Clarion noted.
The petition noted that Emmitsburg was the third-largest municipality in the county (behind Frederick and Brunswick), and that the current post office served an estimated 3,400 people. This included town residents, people living out of town who used the post office, and students at St. Joseph College and St. Mary’s College.
The petition also pointed out that from 1934 to 1936, stamp sales had exceed $10,000 (a first-class stamp cost three cents at the time). Stamps sales for 1937 were also expected to exceed $10,000.
“For the investment of a modest sum the government could own its own property in Emmitsburg and provide its patrons with far more satisfactory accommodations in the way of a modern and up-to-date post office,” the petition noted.
The petition was submitted at the end of 1937, and hearings were held in Washington, D.C. the following June. A number of town officials and businessmen traveled to the city to testify for a post office.
Nothing happened. The project wasn’t approved.
The Emmitsburg Post Office continued to operate out of the building on the square, although it did take over more space.
It wasn’t until 1964 that a new post office was approved for the town. Even that project experienced some delays, but construction on the $50,000 building began in November 1965, and the new building opened in June 1966, at its current location on South Seton Avenue.
The Frederick News noted that the new building had 2,806 square feet of interior space, compared to 1,113 square feet in the building on the square.
Even though the federal money built the building, it had to remain in private hands because of various regulations. The Postal Service could only buy capital equipment for the building, not the building itself. The Postal Service still had to pay rent for its new space to a private owner.
However, Emmitsburg finally had its new post office.