Boone to host post office grand opening
by Anna Oakes
The community post office is where so many stories have been told -- it's where the histories of ordinary people, documented through letters and postcards, were mailed and faithfully delivered to friends and loved ones and often kept for posterity.
The Downtown Boone Post Office has many stories of its own to tell -- built from 1938 to 1940, it stands on King Street as a symbol of national history, community identity, Colonial Revival architecture and of the local culture and natural environment. This Sunday, Oct. 27, the town of Boone invites the community to celebrate this historic and recently renovated structure at a grand opening from 3 to 6 p.m.
"I would like to invite everyone in the community to come out and celebrate this special event," said Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson.
The event includes free refreshments provided by the Downtown Boone Development Association, Char and Stick Boy Bread Company, as well of the tours of the building. Remarks by Clawson, architect Randy Jones and town Planning Director Bill Bailey begin at 4 p.m. Others will be invited to share their memories of the post office as well, said Boone Cultural Resources Director Pilar Fotta.
Beginning in July 1823, Jordan Councill operated a post office out of his general store in the vicinity of downtown Boone, and the community itself was known as "Councill's Store," according to a history prepared by Eric Plaag, chairman of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission. In 1850, the community's name changed to Boone.
In 1938, with the help of U.S. House Rep. Robert L. Doughton, the federal government acquired property from Emma Councill to build a new post office using Works Progress Administration funding. The post office was selected in 1939 to be the recipient of a federally commissioned mural painting, which is located in the building's front lobby and features the pioneer Daniel Boone.
A crowd of more than 3,000 gathered for the April 10, 1940, dedication of the new facility, Plaag's history stated.
In 2009, the town purchased the post office building from the U.S. Postal Service for $1.25 million, agreeing to lease a portion of the upper floor to USPS for continued operations there. In 2011, USPS studied the potential closure of the downtown station but later announced it would continue services there.
Greene Construction began a $1.2 million renovation of the building in 2012 and completed it this year. The town's Planning & Inspections Department, formerly located on Blowing Rock Road, moved into the building's lower floor this past spring.
As part of the renovation, a wheelchair-accessible ramp provides access from the King Street sidewalk to the Planning & Inspections Department's main entrance, which is located on the lower east side of the building. Another wheelchair-accessible ramp provides access to the upper floor post office lobby from handicapped parking spaces in the building's rear parking lot.
Newly added rock walls and metal fencing closely resemble those of the original structure, and the upper floor's original maple floors, post office signs and other fixtures have been preserved. The architect for the project worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the renovations did not affect the post office's listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
"By preserving our past in tangible, meaningful ways, we remind Boone's future generations of who we were, who we are and how we became such a robust, resilient and thriving community in Western North Carolina's rugged mountains," Plaag wrote.
The Downtown Boone Post Office is located at 680 W. King St. in Boone.