Today we complete our review of post offices in Live Oak.
Completed in 1916, the Live Oak Post Office continued to serve the community for decades with apparently little change. After World War II, nuclear war became a real threat to the United States as the Soviet Union developed its nuclear arsenal. Fallout shelters were built or converted in order to evacuate civilians and government officials. One of the locations decided upon in Live Oak was the Post Office, whose sturdy basement would make an acceptable site. To this day, you can see the fallout shelter symbol on the southwest corner of the building. Fortunately, it has never been used as such.
For 50 years, the Live Oak Post Office appears to have operated with relatively few alterations. In May 1964, Congressman Don Fuqua announced that the General Services Administration was asking for bids on an extension and remodeling of the Post Office, with bids to be opened on June 16. The estimated cost of the project was $280,000. In July, Postmistress Sara B. Rogers met with Federal architects, engineers and the contractor to work out the major remodeling and renovations planned for the building. Specifications included an extension to the basement and first floor, lobby remodeling, new front doors, installation of an air conditioning system to ease the working conditions of the staff, new plumbing, new electric service and wiring and other related repairs. The original north wall of the building was torn away and an extension was added to house approximately 200 more mailboxes. The contract with George E. Jenson Contractors, Inc. from Mobile, Alabama cost $174,773 and was slated to be completed within 300 days. Engineering work was provided by Barrett, Daffin and Bishop Architects and Engineers of the Public Building Service in Washington, D.C.
By the end of July 1964, the renovations and remodeling for the Live Oak Post Office had begun. The work on the Post Office was one of several simultaneous construction projects taking place in the City of Live Oak. This included major additions and renovations to the Suwannee County Courthouse, construction of the Douglass School Gymnasium and Suwannee County Airport and several commercial and religious structures. When renovations were completed, the Live Oak Post Office was ready once again to serve the community.
By 1985, however, parking was totally inadequate for the Post Office. Additional parking space was purchased just north of the building on land owned by the Live Oak Church of the Nazarene. Their church building, which was built in 1956 to replace an earlier structure originally constructed by the Presbyterian Church at the first of the century, was torn down. This helped, but did not totally alleviate, the problems. Handicap access remained a major issue, forcing those unable to climb the front stairs to access the building via a ramp at the back door.
Today, the Live Oak Post Office continues to soldier on. Despite continued issues with parking, delivery, and handicap access, the 1916 Post Office externally continues to exude the classic beauty of a bygone day. Plans to replace the Post Office have cropped up many times over the years; in late April 2019, the United States Postal Service stated that the Live Oak Post Office would be moving in the near future, possibly as early as January 2020. Time will tell if this comes to fruition. Until then, the Live Oak Post Office will continue to serve the people of Live Oak and Suwannee County as it has done for more than 100 years.
Different Suwannee County history next week.
Eric Musgrove can be reached at email@example.com or 386-362-0564.