Post Office, Baker City, Baker County, Oregon
By Phyllis Badgley
The beauty of Baker (City's) former post office has long been admired by local residents. Now on the National Registry of Historic Places the building stands as stately today, as it did when constructed in 1910 at Dewey Avenue and Bridge Street.
Locally quarried granite forms the foundation of the historic structure, while the upper portion was constructed of terra cotta stone shipped here from Indiana.
Gray granite pieces slope gracefully on each side of the steps. These tantalized adventurous children to try a quick slide when mother wasn't looking.
Entrance to the building was gained through a revolving door which kept drafts and wind at bay. These have since been replaced.
Flecked red marble graced the lobby floor and is still visible today. Law offices, which occupy the premises currently have restored and maintained the historic character of the structure.
During the years it served Baker patrons, I recall the main lobby window being manned by Grant Grant, Chet Thompson and Gilbert Jones. They wore green visors to diffuse overhead lights. Their black sleeve holders at the wrist protected clothing.
Two registry windows were located on the west side of the lobby. Longtime employees there were Mr. Henninger and Alton Leasy.
Counters for customers use provided legendary NIB pens, which often stuck into the surface of envelopes that were being addressed.
The postmaster's office was located to the left of the Bridge Street entrance. A polished oak staircase led to the Forest Service offices upstairs. Grazing Service office was located in the east corner area of the basement. I recall Jim Diven was head of that department during the mid 1940's. His longtime secretary was Louine Cornstock (later Elliott). The Grazing Service was forerunner of Bureau of Land Management.
Weather observation instruments placed on the roof of the building can still be seen today.
I'm reminded that mail was delivered twice daily in the 1930's and 1940's. Our residence at 4th and Madison was the site of our childhood "Kool-aid" stand. We eagerly awaited the mailman's visit. He walked his route, with leather bag over his shoulder and seemed thirsty. Tootsie O'Neill proved to be one of our best paying customers for the two cents a glass beverage. He definitely had our "Stamp" (pun) of approval.
Old Oregon Trail Monument in post office square was erected in 1925. Local resident Herman Webb captured the dedication ceremony on film with an antique camera. Webb indicated two lights were placed at the base of the monument to provide illumination at night. The monument stood in the center of Bridge Street where through the years many cars "circled" is as they turned to go back down Main Street.
In more recent years the traffic pattern changed. The monument was moved to Post Office Square Park, where it remains. The current post office relocated in 1968, serves patrons from 1550 Dewey Ave.
Printed here with permission of Record Courier