According to the STONE HARBOR CENTENNIAL book, “The Stone Harbor Post Office has been around the block a few times… literally”. As the town of Stone Harbor underwent growth and development over the years, the Post Office that has served the community has been situated in several different locations. Using vintage post cards and photographs, this brief article is about identifying and featuring those various places that have housed the Stone Harbor, N. J. Post Office.
It has been reported that the first location for the Stone Harbor Post Office between 1894 and 1910 operated out of Rummel’s Store situated at 83rd Street and Second Avenue. A vintage post card of Rummel’s Store is illustrated above. In the background and to the left is the first building that was erected in Stone Harbor in the year 1892. That building near 80th Street was originally called the Abbotsford Inn and later renamed Harbor Inn.
The second location for the Stone Harbor Post Office was operated during the years 1910 to 1917 in a pharmacy or drug store owned by George Freshell. This drug store was located at 87th Street and Second Avenue directly opposite the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 88th Street and we can see pictured here Postmaster Freshell standing on the porch of his store. He received his appointment in the Spring of 1911. We have learned that Mr. Freshell, formerly of Wyncote, Pa., established himself in business at Stone Harbor in 1910 after building his store on land deeded him free, under the Stone Harbor Bond Plan. Early Stone Harbor investment and construction was certainly rooted in the creative marketing initiatives of the Risley brothers and their South Jersey Realty Company.
As America entered World War I in 1917, the Stone Harbor Post Office was moved yet again to another store at a third location for about 15 years. The centrally located building shown in this classic post card scene was situated at the corner of 96th Street and Third Avenue directly across the street from the iconic Shelter Haven Hotel.
Taken at the same location as the previous post card, 96th Street and Third Avenue, the above photograph from the Stone Harbor Museum archives features several unidentified persons standing on a cold day in front of the very store window with the signage stating “POST OFFICE / STONE HARBOR”. During this time William I. Christian (1917 to 1920) and later Oliver Ferree (1921 to 1929) were the postmasters.
At some time, perhaps in the early 30s, the post office was apparently housed for a short time in the multipurpose building on 96th Street shown in the photo above. In this image many patrons can be seen standing in a long line waiting to pick up their mail. Please keep in mind that there was no mail delivery to individual businesses and residences at that time and persons had to go to the post office to retrieve their mail from a locked box.
Soon another temporary space was set up in this bungalow or duplex (see photo above) that was located at 217-221 96th Street. The building barely visible to the left in this image was the landmark building known as Troxel’s variety store.
In 1932 the post office was moved again to Diller’s Store at 95th Street and Second Avenue directly across the street from the water tower and pump house. This location would later become known as the Mimi Shop. In the 1930s there still was no actual delivery of mail being made to individual residences and businesses.
As the population of Stone Harbor was increasing substantially during the post-war period and in the decade of the 1950s, a greater need arose for a new facility solely dedicated just for providing a full range of postal services. In 1957, a new building was constructed at the corner of 96th Street and Second Avenue just across the street from the borough Fire Station. Dedicated in the year 1958, it would appear that the Stone Harbor Post Office has taken on a permanent home where the building shown above still stands and is currently in use today.
Finally, here is a photo taken in August of 1957 showing 3 mailmen/letter carriers appearing to be ready at the start of the day to deliver the mail on their routes. At least on this very day, the sun appears to be shining brightly and their attire as you can see consists of short sleeve shirts, shorts and pith helmets. Appropriate for use in the summer months, the light weight pith helmets were made from pith or cork material and designed to shield the wearer from the sun and heat. So judging from appearances in this photo, there will be no rain, nor snow, or sleet, nor hail interfering and keeping these men from accomplishing their appointed rounds! As they say, “The mail must go through”!
The above photo, retrieved from the Stone Harbor Museum archives section, was taken at the loading dock at the back of the current post office building along Second Avenue. Perhaps someone viewing this image might recognize some of these letter carriers and for the record, here are their names from left to right: Ralph Porch, Joe DeRose and David Schaffer. Might possibly one of these individuals have been a person who 66 years ago delivered mail to you and your family while living or vacationing at Stone Harbor? Using the “comments” option on the Facebook/Meta platform, please let us know if you do recall any of these men. Chances are someone will remember them.
In closing, these last 2 photos of the Stone Harbor Post Office were taken by me while on a recent trip to Stone Harbor in August 2023. Essentially the exterior of this building looks basically the same as it did when it opened back in 1958. However, one notable and observable change and important addition is the installation of a ramp to make the postal facility ADA compliant with a wheelchair accessible entrance. Additionally, a ZIP Code (meaning Zone Improvement Plan) stands for a system of postal codes that were introduced on July 1, 1963 and used by the United States Postal Service as a means to handle and deliver mail more efficiently and quickly. The Stone Harbor, New Jersey Zip Code is “08247” and today we can see it is prominently placed over two of the doors of the U.S. Post Office at the corner of 96th Street and Second Avenue.