Barnstable Village Post Office Prepares to Celebrate 225 Years

BARNSTABLE – In February 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department and shortly thereafter Cape Cod’s first post office opened for business.

More than two centuries later, The Barnstable Village Post Office is preparing to celebrate 225 years delivering the mail to cape residents and visitors.

In the old days, the service was run out of the individual homes of postmasters before they found a more permanent facility in the old Custom House, the current Coast Guard Museum, and in the 1950’s moved finally to its present location on Route 6A across from the Barnstable County Complex.

“We were in multiple locations, mostly private homes, it’s been difficult getting the history, I’m not sure what the actual 1792 location was, we still have not managed to unearth it,” said Barnstable Village Postmaster Shirley Huxter, “A lot of times the postmasters were just local people, or judges who took the position.”

The job of the postal service has changed over the years, with the Barnstable office originally responsible for ferrying correspondence between Boston and the Cape where residents would have to stop by to pick up their mail.

“We’re the oldest in the county, and our first route was between Barnstable and Boston only and then gradually they started adding on more towns, I believe that Falmouth just celebrated their 200th year. So there are a number of other offices that came around shortly after our office opened,” said Huxter, “But really we were just run from Boston to here and to no other part of the cape. We had one horseback rider that rode from here to Boston and didn’t serve any areas in between.”  

In the years since, with the development of motor vehicles, trains, and airplanes, Huxter says that the method of transporting mail may have evolved but the role of the postal service remains crucial.

“We went from delivering mail through coach, train, boat, and now ultimately a lot of our mail is flown across the country obviously with the addition of flights, but it’s still the same thing, we still try to get the mail through, deliver the mail securely, it’s an important part of a lot of people’s lives.”

She continued, “Even now in this time of e-mail, especially for the older generation, mail is still very important we have a lot of people that are waiting on that mail-carrier every day. From that point of view it hasn’t changed very much, we still hold a very important role in the town.”

What has changed over the centuries is the sort of parcels being transported. With the advent of telephones, and e-mails, and text messages, there are less letters, less cards, and many many more packages, particularly from online retailers like Amazon.

“Our business has shifted, our parcel delivery has grown and letters have dropped off over the years, but we’ve found a niche, which is great because staff wise that helps us out, it allows us to hold onto our current staff and we are still going as a company because of the parcel delivery business. Those packages have to get to the houses somehow,” said Huxter.

As the Barnstable Village Post Office prepares to begin their next 225 years in service to the community they will take some time next week and celebrate with residents who have long valued the office’s contributions to the village.

On Wednesday, August 16th, members of the community are invited to stop by the lobby, have some snacks and cold drinks, and of course a slice of birthday cake.

Huxter says that for the people of Barnstable a stop at the post office is more than just an errand, “Every morning it’s a meeting place, I believe we really hold an important function in the village. We hear dozens of voices every morning and we smile because this is a place to greet your neighbor.”


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