New at the Museum, –United States Post Office – from Randolph, Ohio

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po21.jpgpo3.jpg  …It’s been considerable work getting this building back in shape.There have been a number of post offices in Randolph over the years. While there was likely an earlier post office in Randolph before 1840, we know nothing of what may have existed before this early 1840’s hand hewn beam building. As you can see from the previous post on March 24th, 2011, the restoration of this building had a long way to go. I’ve spent the last three months putting back the windows and doors, replacing the roof, repairing the siding and restoring the interior.When the Randolph Feed Mill acquired the building they moved it next to the mill, where they used it as the mill’s weigh room. The feed mill folks cut a hole in the north side of the building for a window so they could see out to the weigh scale and determine who was weighing what. (The mill bought grain in bulk from local farmers. The farmers would bring their grain in tractor gravity boxes or dump trucks, get it weighed, then load it into the mill’s storage bunkers. The scale also served to weigh trailors for license plates and to weigh other wholesale farm goods such as pumpkins on their way to market.) Unfortunately, when they put in the scale window, they cut through one of the main support beams for the roof. Although it weakened the building, I decided to leave the window in place because it was a part of the history of the building, even though it was not in the original post office. Then the feed folks put in a doorway connecting the building to the mill. The doorway took out the roof support on the south side of the building. It took a good bit of engineering to properly resupport the roof and beams.When I started working on the building, the interior was covered with peg board that was painted a rather unremarkable institutional green. Under that was extremely nice tongue and groove bead board on all the walls and ceiling (but which was also painted the same awful green). Under that was the original lathe and plaster walls, which had been originally painted white. The plaster walls were covered in several layers of quite fancy probably Victorian era wall paper.There is no longer any way to determine who did what, or when. But my best guess is that the post office interior was originally painted, then possibly later wallpapered. Or maybe the building had a second use after the government moved to the next door larger building, and was for a time something like a small private residence or a dress shop/notions store. Maybe they added non-government looking paper. My guess is that the feed mill then paneled the interior with the bead boards and added celulose insulation to the attic so it would be easier to heat in the Randolph winters (using a wood stove as was originally done in the building would have been much more dangerous because of the dust of a feed mill. Mills have been known to blow up from stray sparks igniting mill dust.). Then finally towards the end of the buildings use in Randolph, the mill folks hung the floor to ceiling peg board to make it easier to post signs and posters, etc.- (I’m going to add a good bit more to this story as I have time. For now I want to say something about the furnishings of the finished P.O.)–

As it has turned out the Randlph Post Office has become one of the stand out buildings of the museum. Inside you will find a number of post office lock boxes from the Richfield P.O. when it was located in the Eastwood Grocery Store. There is also a sorting table from the Seville P.O., a mid 18th Century postman’s “window”, a roll top desk, a really fine hanging oil lamp acquired thru Pat Healy of Medina, and a bead board banister from  a farm house in Ritman. But the best piece of all is a Postmaster’s Cabinet dating to 1840. It came from the Holmes County Post Office, and still has a number of postman’s books and flyers in it, including one dating to 1925 and another dated 1950, proving the cabinet was in constant use for over a hundred years. This is a very rare and wonderful cabinet that alone is well worth the visit to the museum.

The Post Office building also serves as Fryburg’s Telegraph Office. There are a large collection of telegraph keys, and a telegraph sounder and glass batteries on display. We will shortly have them hooked up so visitors will be able to practice their morse code skills.

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