|Littleton Post Office, 5753 S. Prince St., c.1940. The post office moved into this new building in 1939.|
Local Landmark (National Register of Historic Places and Colorado State Register of Historic Properties)—2019
Littleton received its first postmark on April 8, 1869. Richard Sullivan Little was its first postmaster. In 1876 Mrs. Little's parents bought a hotel that stood at the southwest corner of Rapp Street and Bowles Avenue and named it the Harwood Inn. It is believed that, at least from that date, Little used it for the post office. Julius D. Hill succeeded Little as postmaster in 1886 and served until 1893. During Hill's term the post office was in his general store at the corner of Rapp Street and Malinda, (now Alamo). This is now 5728-34 South Rapp.
Following Mr. Hill as postmaster in July 1893 was Robert H. Nelson, Sr., who erected a building on Main Street and moved the post office there. The July 1893 Sanborn insurance map shows a building under construction on the south side of Main Street one door east of Curtice. That two-story brick structure is now 2580 West Main and is thought to have been the site of the post office in 1893. Mr. Nelson died in office in February 1895. His successor, Col. Robert S. Moore, was appointed in late March. It seems that Col. Moore moved the post office to the north side of Main Street between Prince and Nevada, because an ad on April 12, 1895 for H. F. McArthur's grocery store identified the McArthur store location as "in the Abbott Block, opposite post office." The Abbott Block is now at 2430-2440 West Main, indicating that the post office in 1895 was probably across the street at about 2439 West Main where three small buildings preceded the 1921-1922 building in which Hanson Brothers Printing is currently housed.
By 1900 the post office was back at 2580 West Main, according to the Sanborn map of that year. Maud Olmsted, the town's first woman postmistress, had been appointed in December 1899 and was reappointed for four years in 1902 when Littleton was changed from a fourth class to a third class post office.
|Littleton Post Office, 2015. Photo by Amelia Martinez.|
Competition for the office in 1906 was active with at least eight applicants. It probably became more so when an increase in salary from $1200 to $1300 per year was announced. The winner was Clark Z. Cozens who served although his health was failing. On January 8, 1908 the post office was robbed. When Miss Ruby Cozens, who was in charge of the office during her father's illness, arrived the next morning, she found the safe blown open and "a liberal amount of booty" taken. The shock had been strong enough to shake bottles off the shelves in Louis and Martin's drug store in the adjoining room. This description, along with the Sanborn map of 1908, indicates the post office was then in the east end of the extension that had been added to the Coors Building, (now the long storefront that is 2485 West Main). Clark Cozens died a week later. His other daughter, Jessie Cozens, (later Shellabarger), was appointed to succeed him.
A photograph taken between 1900 and 1907 clearly shows the post office in the east end of the Coors building annex with Louis & Martin Drugs next door west.
Rural route postal service had begun on July 1, 1902. City carrier service was begun on November 16, 1912 as one of only fifteen cities in a nationwide experiment by the postal department to see whether it could be successful in towns of not less than 1,000 population. The delivery area was bounded by Berry Street on the north, Peabody Street on the south, Rapp Street on the west and Littleton Hospital on the east. The number of patrons grew from 150 to over 800 within a year. They were asked to put up some kind of box for their mail. By then, two rural routes covered nearly fifty miles; one route entered Douglas and Jefferson counties as well as Arapahoe. The post office was still housed in the Coors Building extension. By about 1917 its address was 2459 West Main. This may have been the same location, but with more storefronts occupying the Coors Building extension. The next door east of this extension in 2003 is numbered 2455 West Main Street. An address of 2459 West Main in 1917 probably would have been in the eastern end of the Coors Building extension. In 1925 city mail delivery was started in the "Windermere district" which was the Gallup Street area.
In 1925 A. J. Valore built the first unit of his three-storefront block at the northeast corner of Main and Prince streets. From about 1927 to 1939 he rented his west building to the post office.
Littleton anticipated as early as 1931 that a new post office building would be built with federal funds. In March of that year the Littleton Independent received a telegram from Congressman Charles B. Timberlake saying that Littleton had been allocated $100,000 for the building, and that he expected the money would be appropriated by the following December. In reality the post office was finally built in 1939 at a cost of $53,000 with Works Progress Administration funds.
Located at the northwest corner of Prince and Alamo streets, the one-story brick building represented the Colonial Revival style in its gabled roof with a center cupola topped by a weather vane. Entrance was through double doors on the east flanked by wood columns and topped by an arch ornamented with a cast bronze eagle. Multi-light double-hung sash windows with stone lintels and sills were other details. Iron light posts sat on either side of the wide steps, and a wrought iron fence stretched across the front. Supervising architect was Louis A. Simon, and Wickes Engineering was the contractor.
A thirteen-by-four-foot mural was painted by WPA artist John Fraser to grace the lobby wall. He worked from photographs in the Littleton Independent to create a composite scene of Littleton showing farms, cows, trains and the Columbine Mill. The painting was rated one of the twelve best murals done by WPA artists for a city in each of the forty-eight states in the nation at the time. It was removed at some unknown date years later. Bob McQuarie, Director of the Littleton Historical Museum, discovered it in the 1970s, "rolled up like a piece of wallpaper and dropped in a corner." Dirty and yellowed, it required the work of conservators at the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center in Denver to clean and restore it in 1985. McQuarie said, "This painting plays an important part in Littleton's history since it shows the essence of this city-agriculture-in a time we'll never see again. It's a blend of all the things that made Littleton into a small, farming community with its own, distinct character. And most of all, it's the only scene created by a painter to convey the nature of Littleton before World War II."
|Today, John Fraser's mural is hung in the City Council chamber at the Littleton Center, 2255 West Berry Avenue.|
By 1948 the post office had twenty employees and served three rural routes, one star route, a mounted (on a car, not a horse) city route and two city carriers.
The original part of the 1939 Littleton Post Office building is little changed since its construction. An addition of wings to the north and west in 1962 tripled the floor space. During the construction, the post office was moved to 2640 West Main Street. The hardest things to move were the heavy post office box sections. In 2017 improvements were made to the post office building including exterior mill work on the window frames in the pinnacle.
The 1939 building is the major public works project of the Depression era in Littleton. It continues to serve Littleton residents. The Highlands Ranch Post Office, 9609 South University Boulevard was, however, designated the main post office for Littleton in October 1992. At that time the postmaster's office was moved to Highlands Ranch.
|Postmasters who have served Littleton:|
|8 April 1869||Richard S. Little|
|17 July 1886||Julius D. Hill|
|15 July 1893||Robert H. Nelson, commissioned|
|29 March 1895||Robert S. Moore, commissioned|
|11 December 1895||James J. Wilson, commissioned|
|1 December 1899||Maud Olmsted|
|27 June 1902||Maud Olmsted, reappointed, P & S (appointed by the President & confirmed by Congress.)|
|22 June 1906||Clark Z. Cozens, P & S|
|11 March 1908||Jessie L. Cozens, P & S|
|1 March 1912||Edward H. Albertson, P & S|
|29 March 1916||L. F. Allen, P & S|
|4 June 1920||L. F. Allen, reappointed, P & S|
|1 October 1921||Fred M. Moore, acting|
|20 February 1923||Fred M. Moore, P & S|
|22 March 1926||Fred M. Moore|
|22 March 1930||Fred M. Moore, reappointed|
|17 May 1934||Mrs. Effie B. Jackson, commissioned|
|2 August 1937||Willard Teller, acting|
|15 February 1938||Willard A. Teller, commissioned|
|29 June 1942||Willard A. Teller, commissioned|
|18 November 1942||Francis M. Connett, acting|
|16 April 1956||Earl K. Downing, commissioned|
|12 March 1957||Francis M. Connett, acting|
|6 August 1957||Francis M. Connett, commissioned|
|17 March 1967||Arthur P. Ryan, acting|
|November 1971||Robert J. Shoates|
|3 June 1978||Joseph A. Dick, appointed|
|29 December 1980||Kenny E. Smith, acting|
|11 July 1981||John C. Sauer, appointed|
|October 1992, postmaster moved to Highlands Ranch|
Campuzano, Denise. Customer Relations Manager. United States Post Office, 9609 South University Boulevard, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126. Telephone interview by Doris Farmer Hulse, November 2000.
Insurance Map, Littleton, Arapahoe County, Colorado. New York: Sanborn-Perris, 1893, 1900, 1908, 1914.
Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .
Littleton Museum. Card File: Julius D. Hill; Littleton Post Office.
____. Photographic Archives.
Simmons, R. Laurie and Thomas H. Simmons. "Historic Buildings Survey, Littleton, Colorado, Littleton Townsite of 1890." Three volumes. Denver: Front Range Research Associates, Inc., 1997, 1998.
____. "Littleton Main Street, Littleton, Colorado, National Register of Historic Places, District Nomination." Denver: Front Range Research Associates, Inc., 1997.
United States Post Office Department. Record of Appointments of Postmasters, 1832-September 1971, Colorado, Colorado Territory. Littleton. Micropublication M841, rolls 14 & 15. Washington: National Archives.
Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum, unless otherwise noted; to order copies, contact the Museum at 303-795-3950.
Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse
Updated April 2020