West Park's Post Offices
By Gary Swilik
The U.S. Post Office was established in 1775 when West Park was still a a nameless wilderness. Exactly where our very first post office was located is uncertain due to scarce records and changing boundaries. One of our earliest post offices – possibly our first – was located at Oswald Kamm's general store at the SW corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue. Mr. Kamm was appointed local postmaster by President Grover Cleveland in 1886.
Kamm's post office and store became a landmark. Outgoing mail bore the postmark “Kamms Ohio.” Among Mr. Kamm's duties was a daily trip to the train station in present Rocky River, Ohio, to pick up the mail. Reportedly he made the trek on foot, hiking down into the valley, across the river, and up the opposite bank. He retraced his steps for the return trip.
How did Oswald Kamm, over 40 years old, make such a journey everyday – five rugged miles – and still have energy to run his store? History provides no answer. Maybe that wasn't considered much of a hike in those days. Or perhaps Mr. Kamm was in great shape. In any case, Kamm's Store was still serving as a post office as late as 1911.
(A branch of the U.S. Post Office remained open at Kamm's Corners for 125 years. Some time after 1911, Kamm's Station Post office moved to a small brick building on the west side of Rocky River Drive just north of Lorain. Still later, Kamm's post office moved into Kamm's Plaza shopping center in a small storefront in the strip just west of Gene's Place to Dine. The postal service called this branch “Kamm's Finance Station.” The official address was 3762 Rocky River Drive. It closed in a cost-cutting move in 2011.
By 1898, another post office had opened on the south side of Lorain Avenue beside the New York Central railroad tracks near the present West Park Rapid Station. This was probably the first official “West Park post office.” In 2007, Addie Feuchter Snell, then 93 years old, told the author, “My father had the post office on Lorain Avenue near the West 143rd tracks for a while. He took the money home at night because there was no place to safely store it at the post office.”
In 1925, the West Park branch of the U.S. Post Office moved to a newly constructed building at 3312 West 117th Street, just north of Lorain Avenue. This post office was in operation until 1936 but stood for many years afterward. It was later home to an Ohio State Liquor store and the Velvet Rail Billiards Parlor. In 1984 it became part of the Tony's Diner complex known as Mr. Z's Deli and Lounge. It was torn down in June 1998.
In 1936 the West Park post office moved into the building most of us remember at 13101 Lorain Avenue. Officially called West Park Station, this new $83,000 facility opened on February 15, 1936, and served the community for 54 years before closing in 1990. It was then occupied by the Sawyer Day Care Center before being demolished in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The site is now occupied by CVS Pharmacy.
Construction on our current post office, at 14500 Lorain Avenue, began in 1988. The building opened to the public in the spring of 1990. Tucked away in the back parking lot of the West Park rapid station, it isn't visible from busy Lorain Avenue. The only access is by way of the drive leading to the rapid station. However, it's a fine-looking post office and will likely serve West Park for many years.
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