Willa Kane
Frontier Historical Society

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December 2, 2013
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Advent of the ZIP code changes Glenwood Springs

During the night all the mail moves all over the state and is then ready by early morning for distribution from the sectional centers to all the other satellite post offices. If this new system is not completely in effect in the next few years all over the nation, the sheer growth of the mail would swamp all facilities. – Glenwood Post, April 21, 1965

81601. On July 1, 1963 these five simple numbers represented the dawn of change within the U.S. Postal Service. With the implementation of these five numbers, and numbers like them across the nation, Glenwood Springs residents would realize an increased efficiency in their mail delivery. These five numbers would also change where Glenwood Springs residents would conduct business with their post office.

Since Glenwood Springs’ founding, the post office was located in the heart of town. However, with no official Federal Building erected for specific post office use, the location of the post office often changed with the appointment of a new postmaster. The location became stationary just after World War I when the Federal Building was erected at the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Ninth Street. A stately and prominent structure located in the heart of downtown, the Federal Building housed the post office and served as a focal point for the community.

By the 1960s, the amount of personal correspondence was on the decline but the volume of business mail was increasing sharply. To efficiently process this increased demand, the national ZIP Code was created. The ZIP Code contained five numbers, with the state of Colorado given the designation of 8. The state was then divided into 13 sections with sectional center offices designated to pouch the mail to the satellite offices within the section. Glenwood Springs was sectional office number 16, so the first three digits of Glenwood Springs’ ZIP Code became 816.

It was estimated that by 1970 over 90 billion pieces of mail would be handled by the postal system. Although an efficient means of routing the mail was now established, larger and modern sectional facilities were required to physically handle the volume. As Glenwood Springs residents embraced the use of the new ZIP Code, the Federal Government worked to establish a new and larger location for the post office which was also a sectional facility. A prime requirement was that the facility remained downtown.

On Dec. 26, 1963, the Glenwood Springs Sage newspaper announced the location for the new post office. It was to be constructed one block west of the current structure, on the northwest corner of Ninth Street and Colorado Avenue. Property on the northeast corner of Pitkin Avenue and northward on the east side of Pitkin Avenue was also to be acquired. The General Services Administration estimated the cost of the project to be $515,400 with funding to come from the Independent Offices Appropriation Act of 1964.

Seven property owners – George Dunsdon, Laura Grange, William Malaby, Phyllis Vaira, Guy Martin, Ora Sloss, and the City of Glenwood Springs – were impacted by the site selection. On July 29, 1964, a condemnation hearing compensated all for their property. A General Services Administration invitation to bid was then posted in the Glenwood Springs Sage newspaper on Sept. 17, 1964 offering the houses at 814, 820, 824, 830 and 832 Pitkin Avenue, and, the houses at 825, 827 and 832 Colorado Avenue for sale. Six of the structures were wood frame residences, one was a brick residence, and one was brick and frame. The fortunate bidders had a deadline of December 1, 1964 to remove the structures. One of the successful bidders was the Frontier Historical Society, which purchased the Sloss residence and relocated the structure to School Street for use as Glenwood Springs’ first museum.

It was announced on Dec. 30, 1964, that Reed Burton Construction Company of Fort Collins at a bid of $323,400 was selected as contractor for the new post office building. By mid-March 1965 the site had been excavated and the foundation of the new building started. The new facility was operational by the end of 1965.

For the past 48 years, the post office building has not only sorted and delivered parcels and letters, but also has been headquarters for the offices of the Arkansas-Frying Pan water project and various local businesses. In keeping with Glenwood Springs’ history, this post office has retained its mission of being a focal point for the community in the heart of downtown.


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 2, 2013 11:16PM Published Dec 2, 2013 11:16PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.