History of The Westhampton Beach Post Office
The first recorded mail collection point in the area, was actually on the back porch of a local home. A type of cabinet served as the post office on the porch of the Foster homestead on East Main Street. It was a convenient place for the townsfolk to fetch their mail and pass the time of day with neighbors. A similar cabinet served the Apaucuck-Tanner’s Neck area and was located on the porch of the Jagger home on the corner of South County Road and Tanner’s Neck Lane.
From 1765, when a post road had been established, the mail was carried by horseback and these porch postal cabinets were used. This continued until the American Revolution, when mail transport by horseback was replaced by a newly established stagecoach route, although the porch postal cabinets continued tp be used to hold and distribute mail.
The first Official Post Office was in West Hampton Centre – at The Bishop and Raynor Store – a General Store and Post Office, located on the south side of Main St. at the west corner of Beach Lane. Letters were left in the care of Charles E. Raynor, who was the first postmaster – appointed July 5, 1862. In 1886 Ernest H. Bishop took over as Postmaster, and in 1889 the job was handed back to Charles Raynor.
December 22, 1890 saw a change in the name of the post office to West Hampton Beach (three separate words). Another General Store, was used as the Post Office in 1905, located on the north side of Main Street. That store later became Brown’s Department Store and later yet, Sexton’s Department Store – which was later remodeled into a number of retail establishments.
Eight different men and one woman – Mabel B. Williams, held the post over the next 39 years – Mabel holding the post for only one year – 1913.
The 3rd Post Office was located in the easily recognized Grimshaw Building on north Main Street. The photo of Mabel below was taken Easter Sunday, 1914 in front of that Post Office. That office is currently 90 Main Street. and today (2013) is the home of Botticelli Portrait Artists.
The Post Office moved once again, to a building on the north side of Main Street. This one was built around 1914 and was used until 1941, when the current building was dedicated. This 4th Post Office is depicted in the Post Card shown below. It was located two buildings west of the north corner of Main and Mill Road. It was this building that later became the popular Post Stop Cafe. On August 1, 1932 the name of the Post Office was once again changed – this time to Westhampton Beach – as it remains today.
Mabel B. Williams had taken up the position of postmistress of Westhampton Beach Post Office again in 1933, and held that post for some 11 years. She held that position when the Works Project Administration that was established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, constructed a new larger building with room for future growth.
The building, an example of Colonial Revival architecture, was designed by Louis A. Simons. It was constructed in 1940 by Mutual Construction Co. and was dedicated on February 22, 1941. About a year later, Sol Wilson completed his mural “Outdoor Sports”which remains today as a fine example of the artistic work supported by the WPA.
According to Isabelle Hymam, Professor Emerita, Department of Art History, New York University, Wilson was born in 1892 in Vilno, Russia (now Lithuania) and came to the United States with his family in 1901. He studied at the Cooper Union Art School, and The National Academy of Design with well known painters George Bellows and Robert Henri. He later taught art at The American Artist School and at The Art Student League in NYC. Today his paintings can be found in the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and The Westhampton Beach Post Office!
In 1991, the Westhampton Beach Post Office celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the help of the newly formed Westhampton Beach Historical Society.