The New Deal Post Office

The New Deal Post Office

In the late 1930s, the WPA, CCC and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s other “alphabet” agencies were going full steam to put unemployed men back to work. Federal agencies were on the lookout for local projects and like many towns across the nation, Milford received a new federally financed local post office. Milford granite and brick may have given the building some local flavor, but the $76,000 building cost came straight from New Deal funds in Washington. This included the WPA-sponsored mural for which Swedish immigrant painter Philip von Saltza was paid $700 after his “Lumberman Log Rolling” mural was the New Hampshire winner in a nationwide contest.

Republican and Temple resident U.S. Senator Charles Tobey was the featured guest during a Saturday gathering held before the post office opened its doors promptly at 8AM on February 1st, 1940. The Saturday celebration featured the usual spectacle of drum and bugle corps, majorettes and flying flags. Speaking to a crowd of more than 500, Senator Tobey hit upon the political themes of the day including New Deal economic equality, commenting that “no branch of the government service is so democratic as that of the postal service. Whether you have three million or three cents, you can purchase a stamp. That stamp will carry your letter across the country in record time. The postal service knows no class ratio.” Despite such comments, Senator Tobey’s relationship to FDR and his New Deal had become increasingly strained. While Tobey supported early relief measures and apparently some federal projects that benefited his own state, he became an increasingly outspoken foe of FDR and big government. 

That evening, a dance actually took place within the post office building as locals swayed to Savage’s Orchestra while examining the new structure. But on Monday morning, the mundane business of stamps and letters commenced as Milford local Arthur Dutton purchased a 3-cent stamp and the first money order was made out to resident Joseph Shaughnessy. And so began this most democratic of government services.

© Copyright History Milford