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Views of Narberth Past

Early post office, about 1915

Image source: Main Line Chronicle, October 8, 1970

Addresses in view: Former Narberth post office (†1953), 104 N. Essex Ave., 106 N. Essex Ave., 201 Haverford Ave. (†1940)

modern view of the historical image seen from the same viewpoint
28 Jan 2017

This wood frame building between the stone railroad station and Haverford Avenue is occupied by The Narberth post office on maps from 1908 and 1913. The building first appeared on the 1900 map and persists through the 1948 edition. Its triangular shape jutted out into Haverford Ave., so in 1928, "considered a grave traffic hazard", the building was moved a few feet to the west and south. It was demolished in 1953 when Haverford Avenue west of Essex was widened.

Peregrinations of the Post Office

Previously the post office had been housed in the station itself: on the 1887 map it is labeled "Narberth P.O.", the earliest appearance of the name Narberth on a map, when the station was still designated as Elm Station.

Victoria Donohoe, Narberth—A History, 1994:

Meanwhile, hoping not to have to depend any longer on General Wayne Inn as their post office, local residents had already sought and been denied a postal facility called Elm (although they had limited postal service in the Elm train station since 1886) because of a name conflict with an existing facility in the western part of the state. However in 1890 a Narberth post office was approved. Its location was the stone railway station on the northside of the tracks, this facility itself undergoing a name change from Elm to Narberth in 1892.

The post office was given its own quarters in this building about 1905. After several years of complaints and campaigns for larger quarters, it moved in August 1918 into the Arcade or "Harris" Building at 207 Haverford Ave. In August 1928 it re-located to a new building at 109 North Essex, which in 2018 houses a florist and a photographer. In 1956, the current post office on Narberth Ave. was constructed.

black and white drawing of the building at 109 North Essex
Architect's rendering of 109 N. Essex, the Narberth Post Office 1928-56. Source: Our Town, April 21, 1928

From the Main Line Chronicle, October 8, 1970:

FIRST POST OFFICE

Elm Station got its first post office in 1886. The first four postmasters were women, Mrs. W. G. and Mrs. Emma Smick. This mother-daughter team was followed by a second, Mrs. Eliza and Miss Elizabeth Ketcham. It wasn't until 1906 that a man, George McCauslin, took over the Narberth Post Office.

Narberth is now served by 17 letter carrier[s] and 13 clerks. Joseph Kelley Jr., the present postmaster, is the son of Narberth's postmaster from 1935 to 1952. Louis Spinelli is the Director of Mails.

Up to 1911[sic], the ticket office and post office were combined in the station. The story goes, that most of the Pennsylvania Railroad men were Republicans, and the new postmaster was a Democrat, so he had the post office moved across the street. According to Edward S. Haws, the postmaster in question, "he needed the space!"

Free mail delivery was started July 1, 1920 through the endeavors of Mr. Haws. To have the service required not less than 85 per cent of the households being equipped with mail boxes. Many people thought that the town would lose a lot of its character and intimacy if people no longer met daily as they went to the post office for mall; this "trip to town" for letters was a well-liked chore and there seemed to be no good reason to give it up.

References

  1. Our Town in 1952, A Report to the Citizens of Narberth
  2. "Hip! Hip! Hooray! The New P.O. will open next Monday Morning", Our Town, August 15, 1918