A nearly 100-year-old mailbox was removed from the sidewalk in front of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, upsetting the inn’s owner, who says it’s unclear who the box actually belongs to. The blue and red, pedestal mailbox that stood in front of the Yankee Pedlar was identical to one held in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s collection, excluding the paint colors. The model, called a Van Dorn Lamp Post Box, was used between 1911 and 1919.
“I’m pretty much very upset about it because we haven’t ascertained who actually owned the mailbox,” said Sanjay Patel, owner of the inn since 1997. “I’ve spoken to Mark [McEachern] from the historical society to try to write a letter of support to see that we actually keep it.”
Although educators at the Smithsonian museum couldn’t respond by deadline, the museum’s spokesman Marshall Emery said he felt “safe” identifying the box as a Van Dorn lamppost mailbox. The metal mailboxes were manufactured by the Van Dorn Iron Works Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Many of the mailboxes were removed after being installed because postmasters considered them “unattractive” compared with ornate lampposts of the day.
City contractors removed the metal mailbox when the sidewalk in front of the Main Street inn was torn up to be improved, Tuesday. Post office workers then picked up the mail box, one employee said it was brought to Waterbury. The Waterbury postmaster said he had “no idea,” the mailbox existed, and that he didn’t know if it was in Waterbury.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut Valley District USPS, Christine Dugas, said the box, “probably would not be coming back to Torrington. That seems to be where the postmaster is going at this point.” She said she’s investigating who owns the box, and that, “We’re pretty sure we own [the mailbox.]”
Patel said he’s called the Torrington postmaster, who began working at the location at the end of August, but the postmaster hasn’t returned his calls. City officials also said they’d unsuccessfully attempted to contact the postmaster. The Torrington postmaster also failed to return multiple calls made over a period of days by the Register Citizen.
“It’s one of those little things that helps define the character of downtown Torrington,” said McEachern. The Torrington Historical Society keeps a Van Dorn lamppost mailbox as part of its collection, it’s been preserved in red, white and blue paint.
“It’s preserved but not as many people have access to seeing it as they do on Main Street. If it’s out in the open on Main Street far more people have access to see it and appreciate it,” said McEachern.
To further complicate ownership of the mailbox, Torrington post office employees said the mailbox in front of the Yankee Pedlar was not functioning, although pick up times were listed and Patel says the mailman routinely checked for mail. City officials said the post office was contacted the day the box was removed because there was post in it.
Dugas said the postal service might offer the box to the National Postal Museum, and may also ask the Connecticut Valley region if they’d like it.
“It’s not in the best shape,” said Dugas. “That would be a concern because we wouldn’t want a child, for example, to get scraped by the rust,” she said.
If Patel can obtain the box from post office officials, Dugas said he would need to have the box welded shut. Dugas said the postal service does not donate items, and she’s not aware of any way for Patel to purchase the item.
Source: 100-year-old mailbox removed from Torrington Main Street