The Rich History of the Oxford Post Office

The Oxford Post Office

The Oxford Post Office, was built in 1939-40 during the Franklin D. Roosevelt era. It is one of a large group of, 143, New York State post offices that has been put on the National Register of Historic Places. This handsome, classic architectural government building is of the Colonial Revival style, which Roosevelt took a special interest in. (Some of the Post Offices built in NYS, President Roosevelt actually helped design.) It was built by Smythe Construction Co. of Takoma Park, MD.

Back in 1938, when the plans for the construction of the new $70,000.00 post office were presented to Oxford, a site had to be determined. Howard M. Hoffman's submitted bid for his property at the corner of State and Clinton (now South Washington) Streets for $8,000.00, was the winner. There was just one problem, Mr. Hoffman's land had an historic building already on it.
At that time, this quite large building was known as "Hoffman Inn", but it was originally the Jonathan Baldwin House. The Baldwin House was one of the oldest houses in the village, built in 1794. Luckily, for all of us today, Howard Hoffman decided to move the inn around the corner to property that he owned on State Street, adjacent to where the post office now stands. In January 1939, L. D. Dexheimer and Son of Guilford moved the building onto a brand new basement/foundation on State Street, and then the Hoffmans converted the inn into four apartments.

In 1940, when construction was complete in May, the postal "apparatus" from the Navy Island block was moved to its present location. Five months later, more than one thousand people turned out to witness the official dedication ceremony. It was a grand and historic moment everyone wanted to be a part of. The master of ceremonies was the former Judge David F. Lee, of Norwich. The celebrated speakers in attendance were Senator James M. Mead of Buffalo, Assemblyman Edwin A. Hall of Binghamton, and the Honorable Calvin W. Hassell, assistant solicitor of the Federal Postal Department in Washington, D.C.

A temporary rostrum was built, for the area's prominent men, out from the steps of the post office for the event. Seated on the special platform were T.A. Delancey of Oswego, deputy state grange master; Fred B. Baker, mayor of Oxford; William E. Waldord, president of the National Bank of Oxford; G. Challis Franklin, principal of Oxford Academy; the Rev. Norman B. Graves of the Oxford Methodist Church; the Rev. Thomas J. Leonard of St. Joseph's Church; Dr. Howard Deller of the Congregational Church, and the Rev. James E. Mahagan of St. Paul's Church.

Family Reunion on Clark Island: Spring 1791At the end of May 1941 a custom made mural, executed in egg tempera, was hung in the Oxford Post Office. Mordi Gassner, a mural and portrait artist from New York was awarded a contract to paint a mural on (gesso primed) linen. The painting titled, "Family Reunion on Clark Island: Spring 1791", (probably refers to Cork or Packer Island), was his interpretation of an historic local event. It depicted the arrival of the (older) Blackman children coming from Unadilla, after an extremely difficult, two-day journey by ox-sled. In the painting, two young men, Elijah, Jr. and Jabez Blackman, along with their 11-year-old foster sister, Polly Knapp, arrive in 1791, to join their father, Elijah Blackman, Sr. and his friend, James Phelps. They all came from CT, however, circumstances forced them to split up. They are struck with awe by the river and the vast acres of forest, and the only inhabitants are the Native Americans.
Mr. Blackman had preceded the children to Oxford, three years prior, in 1788. He was the first white man to settle in Oxford. He built a rough log cabin on Cork Island, later known as Packer Island, in preparation for the coming of his family from Connecticut.
Sickness prevented Mrs. Blackman and the younger children from proceeding farther than Unadilla, but the two boys and Polly, pushed on through dense forest for the happy reunion shown in artist Gassner's creation.

Post Office information:
2 South Washington Avenue, Oxford, NY 13830. (607) 843-2851. Open: Mon - Fri 9:00 a.m. - Noon & 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.; Sat. 9:00 a.m. - Noon. Lobby: 24/7
One stop location for all your postage and mailing needs. Packaging products available to mail your packages. Post Office boxes available for rent.