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Broad Avenue post office has a rich and varied history

James Matthew Griggs, the 2nd Congressional District's U.S. representative in the early 1900s, is remembered with a bronze plaque in the century-old West Broad Avenue post office building that bears his name. Griggs was instrumental in securing appropriations for the 1912 construction of the building. (Dec. 9, 2012)

James Matthew Griggs, the 2nd Congressional District's U.S. representative in the early 1900s, is remembered with a bronze plaque in the century-old West Broad Avenue post office building that bears his name. Griggs was instrumental in securing appropriations for the 1912 construction of the building. (Dec. 9, 2012)

ALBANY -- Listen closely when you visit the endangered post office at 345 West Broad Ave. Perhaps you'll hear the echoes of long-stilled voices: wizened, white-haired veterans of the War Between the States longing for a letter from their children or an old companion, corseted ladies in rustling dresses and high-button shoes, as if boarding the steamship Titanic.

In fact, the Titanic made its first and final voyage in 1912, the year the downtown post office was completed. D.W. Griffith released "The Musketeers of Pig Alley," the original gangster movie -- silent, of course -- that year. Teddy Roosevelt won the nomination of his Bull Moose party.

After a century of service to the community, the West Broad Avenue post office is set to close in May, victim of hard economic times. The United States Postal Service has been forced to compete with private firms and with the social and electronic phenomenon called email. Even worse, in 2006 a congressional mandate decreed the service must "pre-fund" health insurance benefits for all its future retirees, unprecedented in either public or private sectors.

According to the USPS and to Frances Krack, leasing agent for the Griggs Building, where the facility is housed, there remains the possibility a private firm could take over most important functions of the post office, though it's uncertain whether customers could maintain their original box numbers or even the same zip code.

Krack, Johnny "Rabbit Man" Williams, city and local officials, including Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta, are at the forefront of an ongoing protest against the closing. According to 2nd District U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, the greatest chance for congressional reversal is to contact the Republican leadership of the House, which, Bishop said, is holding up discussion of the USPS health fund.

Krack said her research marks the opening of the West Broad post office on Feb. 24, 1912. The facility would be built on a site originally known as the circus grounds, owned by H.P. Jones, who ultimately sold land lots to the Albany Hebrew Congregation in 1876. Until purchased by the U.S. government, the land was referred to as "synagogue lots," the research states.

A bronze plaque, placed on the first floor of the post office by the city of Albany and Dougherty County, credits James Matthew Griggs, second district congressman from 1897 to 1910, with obtaining the appropriations for the facility, which now bears his name.

Nellie Brimberry, whose late husband had been postmaster, in 1910 was appointed first postmistress of a first-class post office by President William Howard Taft. While Brimberry may have been grateful to Taft for the appointment, and to Griggs for helping to provide funds for the structure, she couldn't have voted for either man. As a woman, she'd wait another eight years for the 19th Amendment to pass before she would be allowed to vote.

Brimberry is said to have secured for pecan growers the privilege of shipping by mail sealed packages of their product. According to research accounts, the advancement brought national attention to south Georgia pecans.

For her research, Krack cites page 59 of "Albany on the Flint;" Dougherty County Deed Book 5, page 781; Dougherty County Deed Book 16, page 170; an oral history by H.B. Brimberry; Georgia Press Reference Association, 1927, Nellie Brimberry (Women of Georgia), and The Albany Herald's Feb. 21, 1966 obituary of Nellie Brimberry.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

A great read. Thanks. The stupid Bush and fanatical right wing politicos sealed the demise of the USPS with ". . . (the) 2006 .. . congressional mandate decree(ing) the service must "pre-fund" health insurance benefits for all its future retirees, unprecedented in either public or private sectors." The far right hope to receive gruel from their masters for survival I suppose.

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beenhereawhile 1 year, 11 months ago

While there is a sentimental attachment to "old" buildings, this building is not really all that old. Even in the article, it claims that "veterans of the War Between the States" MIGHT have gone there looking for letters. OK that MIGHT have happened, there were probably a FEW veterans alive at that time, but very FEW. The article doesn't even tie the post office to major things going on at the time or just after it opened like WORLD WAR 1.

Lets face it, 1912 is not really that old. And it is a post office. The fact is that it is beyond its useful life. And it is in a location that gets very little usage. So lets just move onto something more important to spend our money on.

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Jim.West 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually, if you'll re-read the first paragraph, "might" was never used to discribe the certainty Civil War Veterans were visiting the post office. Of course they were. Most of them would only have been in their mid sixties to early seventies. Do the math. My own great grandfather, a Gettysburg veteran, didn't pass away until the late 1920's. The last of that group is said to have passed away in 1959 -- some 47 years beyond the opening of the downtown post office.

How old is "old" you think? Beyond its useful life? Seems pretty busy when I'm in there. Really, it's not even "our money" we would spend to keep it open. The major problem is the unprecidented -- yes, unprecidented and even unique burden which has been placed on the USPS to fund future health care. What other entity is required to do that to the length and degree of USPS. Look it up. To save our post office would require only to convince Congress to remove or reduce the burden.

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Cartman 1 year, 11 months ago

Why are they delaying the closure of the Broad Ave Post Office? I thought the USPS had authority to independently manage things. We desparately need government to cut spending and then the self-centered gimme's gripe when cuts are made. Close it. Don't drag this out.

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whattheheck 1 year, 11 months ago

We are in agreement--if it ain't working, we don't need it. The USPS is caught up in a decreasing market for what it sells and too many people getting too many benefits. If you go to some of these places like Bronwood and Willacoochee and plenty of others, you see an overhead that cannot be sustained. But to the liberals among us that is acceptable since others money or credit can be to finance things we don't need. USPS has the authority to do many things independently, including closing this office, all with the approval of the Congress of course. :)

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beenhereawhile 1 year, 11 months ago

whattheheck....I had the same thoughts this weekend while driving to the Georgia coast. Every little gathering of just a few houses has its own post office, even if it is just 5 miles from the next town. The USPS needs to be self supporting and the Congress will not let it make the changes that it needs to make.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

Well does this mean OBAMA is going to appropriate money one post office at the time now to reverse the cost cutting measures

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Jim.West 1 year, 11 months ago

USPS doesn't operate on tax money and none has been requested. The big problem is not competition with email, etc., but the required future funding of retiree healthcare. An answer to that has passed the senate (no, not more taxes) but has been stalled by the Republican leadership. See response to beenhereawhile #1.

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