CAMDEN — On Saturday, Sept. 10, Camden Post Office mailbox holders received a notification letter from a U.S. Postal Service with instructions on coping with a temporarily shuttered post office. Box holders were told that as of Sept. 16, all retail operations, including mailbox service, would be suspended and they were to travel to Rockland to pick up mail, or otherwise do business.
Heather Adams, Manager of the Post Office Operations, said in the Sept. 9 letter that: “after careful consideration, and only as a last resort, the Maine-New Hampshire-Vermont District has decided to temporarily suspend retail operation for Camden, ME 04843, due to construction of the building.”
Once construction is complete, normal retail operations will resume, she said.
Street delivery is to continue as is, but any items that cannot be be delivered at the resident are to be picked up at the Rockland Post Office.
Last fall, the Camden Post Office erected a mobile facility outside the building to accommodate the public. That is not to be the case, now.
“While we did originally pace a mobile Post Office nearby the Camden facility, I’m told that we were only able to keep it there for a short time due to parking constraints,” said Steve Doherty, Strategic Communications Specialist at the United States Postal Service in Boston, on Sept. 12.
“The nature of the renovations is not cosmetic in nature and addresses some safety concerns with the building, so not doing the project wasn’t an option,” he said. “The question then became ‘how do we complete this project with minimal negative impact to our employees and the local community.’ The path we’ve chosen, to temporarily vacate the facility and allow 24/7 access to the work crews, best addresses that question.”
A new elevator was constructed and installed last winter in the post office.
The Rockland Post Office lobby, at 21 Limerock Street, is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Retail window hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
The Camden Post Office was built in 1914, after years of postal service operations occupying a small office in the Camden Opera House, according to Camden’s history book, Where the Mountains Meet the Sea.
Prompting the construction of a new building was in part attributed to the D. P. Ordway Plaster Company, a medicinal enterprise that operated via direct mail.
“The volume of mail to and from this early direct-mail marketing machine required horse-drawn gains to deliver loads of envelopes twice a day at a time when the Camden Post Office was located in a little office at the opera house,” wrote the authors of Where the Mountains Meet the Sea (page 70). “The Ordway Company spent more than $40,000 on postage every year, an amazing figure that ultimately convinced the U.S. Postal Service to upgrade the Camden Post Office into a first-class operation in 1909, and to a build a new building downtown to handle the volume in 1914.”
The Post Office is included in the designation of the downtown Camden section that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The “Camden Great Fire Historic District” encompasses many buildings on Elm and Main streets.
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