Historic Building of the Week: Old Post Office

The historic brick building at 61-55 Pleasant St. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Whatever you do, do not bring your mail to Pleasant Street. The functioning post office is on Smith Street, right by the high school.

However, I can understand why some may confuse 61 Pleasant St. for a post office, since it was once the town’s post office and custom house. Though the building is now used for condos, the exterior structure remains almost identical to when it was a post office.

Construction began on the old post office in the summer of 1905, and on Sept. 28, 1905 there was an impressive ceremony “under the auspices of Philanthropic Lodge with full Masonic rites,” according to an article in Sept. 28, 1906’s edition of the Marblehead Messenger. The article continues that the public were welcome to come and inspect the new post office almost exactly a year later, on Sept. 29, 1906. It officially opened the next Monday.

The post-office project came with a $70,000 congressional appropriation to cover the full construction costs. The land cost $14,000 and the construction cost $46,000. With other related costs, the project’s total price landed within a few thousand dollars of the appropriation.

While $70,000 seems like a scant amount for a post office, it stretched quite far. The building is an ornate colonial-revival-style building with a Flemish bond brick exterior. The door surround – or entablature – is decorated with ionic pilasters, stone eagles, and garlands. The street-facing windows, as well as the door, are topped with arches. The arches above the windows have sculpted images, the left depicting scales and a key, and the right depicting a person riding a horse.

I couldn’t agree more with the reader who brought this building to our attention when they said it was simply “beautiful.”