Baldwinsville History Mystery: Nov. 14, 2018
Question: Is it the slushy street, the dead plants in the flower boxes or something else that makes this photo seem bleak? The site itself has had a front row seat on local comings and goings for more than 200 years. Do you know where this photo was taken?
Last week’s answer: Last week’s photo was taken in November 1915 and shows the interior of Baldwinsville’s new post office. It was the 100th anniversary of Baldwinsville’s designation as a U.S. post office. Willard Harvey Tappan (at the far right) had been appointed Postmaster in March 1915 and he had just moved the postal facility from the Seneca House to a new site.
In the days before a local federal building was in place, it was customary for the postmaster to choose the local site. During its first century, the Baldwinsville post office had been housed in a variety of sites from a general store to a hotel.
As the village grew, its postal needs grew also. Larger quarters were required. Tappan secured the store occupying the northern half of the recently erected Odd Fellows Temple at 58 Oswego St. The space was commodious and the facility was completely modern. The weekly Gazette and Farmers’ Journal printed a detailed and laudatory account of the new venue:
“The new post office … is a greatly appreciated improvement. The additional room afforded in the new location and the many modern conveniences installed make it one of the most modern offices in the state. It is equipped throughout with new furniture made of quartered oak, and especially designed and adapted for post office use. The lobby is large and well lighted and equipped with two conveniently arranged desks for the use of patrons, and the windows for the money order department, postal savings bank department, registered mail, stamps and general delivery are located so they are easily accessible. A private office for the postmaster is located at the front, facing Oswego Street. This communicates with the general office, located in the center, the carriers’ desks being at the rear. A driveway and side door on the north side of the building permit the prompt dispatch and receipt of the mails.”
The Gazette continued, “The public is indebted to Postmaster W.H. Tappan for the new and modern office he has secured, and he and his assistants are to be congratulated upon the excellent service they are giving the public.”
The position of postmaster, a four-year term, was filled by presidential appointment. Tappan, grandson of pioneer Col. Gabriel Tappan, and a prominent merchant, former village trustee and village president, had served as Postmaster during the Cleveland administration. Upon the election of President Wilson, the Democratic party returned to power. In Baldwinsville both Tappan and paper mill owner Richard Hoffmann declared themselves interested in the newly available postmaster position. Congressman John B. Clancy interviewed both candidates and recommended the appointment of Tappan, who then served two terms.
Willard Tappan passed away in 1930 at the age of 74 and is buried in Riverview Cemetery.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 315-434-8889 ext. 310 with your guess by 5 p.m. Friday (please leave the information in the message; we are not generally able to return calls regarding History Mystery responses). If you are the first person to correctly identify an element in the photo before the deadline, your name and guess will appear in next week’s Messenger, along with another History Mystery feature. History Mystery is a joint project of the Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse and the Baldwinsville Public Library.