Lakewood Post Office — 1946-1976
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
I’m often surprised to discover things about the part of Dallas I grew up in which I somehow never knew — in this case: Lakewood’s first post office, which was apparently in operation when I was a living, breathing, sentient human being but which I’d never known about until today. (I actually grew up in the nearby Lower Greenville neighborhood, but even though I went to Long and Woodrow, I don’t remember being all that aware of Lakewood proper until I was able to drive myself around it as a teenager.) Somehow I had never known that there was a post office in Lakewood before the one at Swiss and La Vista. Or, rather, I’d never even thought about it. Until I saw this ad earlier today:
“The Lighthouse — Unusual Sea Foods, Steak and Chicken — Opposite Lakewood Post Office.”
Post office? New to me. I looked it up. It was just west of Abrams, on Prospect at Kidwell, positioned diagonally across the lot. It was the 13th post office substation in Dallas, and it opened on December 2, 1946, over two years after its approval had been announced.
That one is a little difficult to read. Here’s a transcription:
Construction of a new branch post office for the Lakewood area will begin soon to be completed by early spring, Postmaster J. Howard Payne said Saturday.
The new branch office, to be constructed of brick, will be at Prospect and Tidwell [sic], Payne said. The contractor is Bascomb E. McClesky [sic]. The building will have 4,000 square feet of floor space. Parking space will be provided on the lot.
[McCleskey] will retain title to the property and will lease it to the government, Payne said.
(I’m not sure I was aware developers leased property to the federal government. B. E. McCleskey lived in the Pasadena area of Lakewood and seems to have spent his 30-year career as a general contractor who also bought, sold, and developed both commercial and residential properties in and around this part of East Dallas. When he began his career, he had an office on Gaston in the new Lakewood Shopping Center; at the time of his death in 1956, his office was right next door to the post office on land which, presumably, he still owned.)
DMN, Dec. 1, 1946
This post office lasted for 30 years until the newer, hulkier, and far less aesthetically appealing station opened at Swiss and La Vista on May 10, 1976.
Some factoids which will come in handy should you ever find yourself in a U.S. Post Office Trivial Pursuit (Lakewood Edition) competition:
- When the first Lakewood post office opened in 1946, it employed 3 clerks, 1 supervisor, and 16 carriers.
- When the second post office opened 30 years later, it employed 13 clerks, 2 supervisors, and 47 carriers.
But back to the first post office — the building is still standing and houses the Times Ten Cellars wine bar! I’ve passed that building a lot over the years, but I guess I never paid much attention to it. I don’t know why, because it’s a great little building. It would never occur to me that it might ever have been a post office. I wish more businesses in Dallas would consider repurposing older buildings rather than building characterless boxes that look like every other characterless box. Thank you, Times Ten Cellars!
That Lighthouse “unusual sea foods” restaurant? It doesn’t seem to have lasted very long. It changed hands a few times before closing as the Lighthouse Cafe at the end of 1950. At one point it was known as Phil’s Lighthouse — “Dallas’ most unique dining place where the atmosphere is: ‘Nautical But Nice.'”
That’s right … “NAUTICAL BUT NICE”!
If anyone remembers the Lighthouse restaurant: was it actually shaped like a lighthouse?
Detail of a page from the 1952 Mapsco showing the location of the old post office:
Click pictures for larger images.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.