Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Museum of the Week – The Postal Museum

Posted 8/26/2011 11:20:00 AM

Here’s a suggestion for a great, relaxed afternoon in Charleston: Start at the newly refurbished City Market. There you will find a plethora of Palmetto State souvenirs. Pick up a handful of postcards.

Then, wander over to one of Charleston’s great coffee shops like City Lights and sip a cappuccino while you write all of your friends and tell them, “Wish you were here.”

Finally, head over to the corner of Meeting and Broad streets, where you can pick up some stamps at the beautiful, wood-paneled Charleston post office branch. But before you slip your postcards into the outgoing mail, make sure that you take a few minutes to check out a museum that really delivers – literally!

The Postal Museum is a small but fascinating museum that focuses on the history of the postal service in Charleston. Old stamps, post office memorabilia and newspaper clippings tell of the post office’s role in many of the city’s historical moments.

The current post office, which houses the museum, was built in 1896 on the ruins of an old police station that had been destroyed by an earthquake a decade earlier. If your local post office, like mine, is full of Formica and florescent light, you won’t want to miss this post office branch’s warm, 19th-century charm. What is purely utilitarian in our modern world was once full of elegance and romance.

In a world where we now can track our packages on smart phones and send messages to one another with the click of a mouse, it’s very interesting to spend a few minutes thinking about a time when the postal service was the only link people had to their friends, family and colleagues across the state and country.

The Postal Museum is located on the corner of Broad and Meeting streets in Charleston. Just head in through the lobby and follow the signs that point to the museum. The museum is open during the post office’s normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The current price of a postcard stamp is 29 cents, but admission to the museum is free.