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Fall 2011

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Dark of Night...

Dodge City's Post Office Buildings

by Carol Jenkner

Sometimes change comes slowly to Dodge City. Take, for example, the Dodge City Post Office; it has been in the present building for eighty years with a few alterations made now and then to accommodate new rules and regulations.

Dodge City has had seven post office sites since the first official one was located within the city limits - before that Fort Dodge was in charge of any mail for the new town. The buildings in which the early post offices resided are long gone, torn down during the Urban Renewal that removed Front Street. The first four buildings were practically sitting on top of what is now Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

Bring to mind the site of the Carnegie Arts Center located on the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Spruce Street. The first Dodge City Post Office was about four blocks south on the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Front Street, facing 2nd Avenue, tucked into a corner of Hermann Fringer's City Drug Store; it was within a few steps of the railroad track along which Front Street ran. The post office remained in this general location from 1872 until 1886. The second post office was reportedly located one door west, a temporary home used until the third building was completed. Dr. McCarty's Drug Store, housed in the ornate red brick McCarty Block, was one block north at the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Chestnut Street, a street that no longer exists.

The fourth location was the building at the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Walnut Street, now called Gunsmoke. In early newspaper accounts it was referred to as the Mullin Building, home to the City Furniture Store, but in more recent times most think of it as the Robinson Furniture building. The post office was moved to the Mullin Building some time between 1906 and 1911.

In 1915 it was decided that the post office needed a building of it's own. Although private funds were used to build the new building and it was owned by a private party or parties, it was built to house the post office on the first floor with offices on the second floor. This building is located at 610 2nd Avenue, a white brick building in the middle of the block, east side. If one pauses to look at the top of this building, there seems to have been something taken off the building; it was an eagle that now rests above the front door of the current post office.

The building of the sixth post office is a story in itself since it involved the removal of a popular building known as McCarty's Rink. The project took about a year to complete. The McCarty Rink building was offered for sale to be moved. When there were no buyers, the building was torn down and the wood salvaged and taken to the Koechner farm out by Wright.

The opening of the new post office occurred around November 1, 1916 but was not given much notice since the Christmas rush was beginning, the presidential election took up much of the newspaper's front page and the United States was getting involved in World War I. A move for the patrons of the post office was only a slight inconvenience since it was being done mostly at night and on a Sunday.

The current post office located on the northeast corner of Spruce and Central was the only building built specifically as a federal building housing the post office and other federal offices. It opened its doors to the public in 1932. According to an article in the Dodge City Daily Globe dated January 7, 1953 the architects for the post office building set about figuring out what type of architecture was most associated with the region. "As neither sod houses nor Indian tepees offered designs practical for a post office the architects decided upon a semi-Spanish structure - Dodge City, on the 100th meridian, being at one time on the edge of Spanish territory."

The post office building was the first located away from 2nd Street, the main north-south street through town. The location was chosen because the federal government already owned the ground, a site that was big enough to accommodate the new structure. When the building was completed it housed all the federal agencies in town including the United States Weather Service (now located at the airport). In 1953 when the above mentioned article was written the post office building was home to "the Farmers Home Administration, recruiting offices, social security administration, selective service board, bureau of internal revenue and the offices of the revenue agent." Today the building is home only to the Dodge City Post Office.

 


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