Sign, Sealed, DeliveredLooking back at St. Andrew’s Parish’s first post office
May 21, 2013
By Donna Jacobs
The list of a community’s defining features would include churches, schools, stores, homes, and a post office. The ability to send and receive mail has always been a key element in the growth of a community and the way its people stay connected. The first St. Andrew’s Post Office opened in March of 1947 on Avondale Drive, just one of many projects tackled by the Exchange Club of St. Andrew’s Parish on behalf of the community.
Thomas A. Croghan, who lived in The Crescent, was named the branch postmaster. According to the article in the Friday, Feb. 28, 1947 edition of The News & Courier announcing the opening ceremony, Croghan was a 30-year veteran of the post office and “is experienced in all phases of post office work.” It was an active branch, somewhat centrally located among the developing neighborhoods and many members of the community could easily walk to mail letters.
By 1950 Avondale was rapidly becoming the commercial hub with a bank, numerous gas stations, a move theater, pharmacy, grocery store, several five & dime stores and a few restaurants. But as more and more neighborhoods began to line Folly Road, St. Andrew’s Boulevard and Savannah Highway, this post office became too small to service the community. South Windermere Shopping Center and neighborhood was a large addition to the area and Bill Ackerman had the idea that the post office might be better located in that area along Folly Road.
This idea was not shared by all the residents of the Parish. In fact they were “up in arms” and it was decided by some members of the St. Andrew’s Parish Business Association that action should be taken to maintain the post office in the Avondale community. So Richard Bradham made an appointment with the Postmaster General of the United States. Cecil Kearse, the Assistant Cashier and Manager of the West Ashley Citizens and Southern Bank, Dr. Charles Dawson, the pharmacist at Avondale Pharmacy and Richard Bradham, who served as President of the St. Andrew’s Parish Business Association traveled to Washington, D.C. to petition the Postmaster General to maintain the St. Andrew’s Post Office in the Avondale area.
Kearse recounted this story recently. The date of this trip is not recorded; however, the timeline might indicate that they met with Arthur E. Summerfield appointed in January of 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kearse remembers that Dr. Dawson took a map, illustrating the current population distribution in the Parish, to demonstrate to the Postmaster General that the post office would be best located in Avondale. (Kearse also recalls that this was Dr. Dawson’s first flight experience and he was a little reserved about the flight and took some ribbing from his travel companions.)
The delegation was successful in their petition and in June of 1957 construction began on a new St. Andrew’s Post Office on Hickory Street in Avondale. The Charleston Evening Post announced the Oct. 21, 1957 opening of the new branch post office in a caption accompanying a photo of the fully air conditioned 4,000-square-foot facility. Ultimately the postal needs of the community outgrew this facility and a new building was dedicated on Sycamore Drive in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was President and Benjamin Bailar was the Postmaster General. On Aug. 30, 2000 this Post Office was dedicated in the name of Judge Richard E. Fields. In October 2004, Gullah Gourmet decided to move its thriving operation into the second Old Avondale Post Office building. Now you can buy cards for mailing in their gift shop as well as their signature yummy wcountry delights.
Donna Jacobs is the author of “Byrnes Downs” and “West Ashley” and is continuing her research on the transition of St. Andrew’s Parish from an agrarian community to the suburbs of today. She loves to listen to stories, contact her at email@example.com