Friday, March 15, 2013

And Now a Word About the Florence Post Office

Photograph by Brent Moore

The TimesDaily has a very interesting article about a U.S. naturalization ceremony that recently took place in Florence. While the story is about those who were becoming citizens, it does often refer to the building where the ceremony took place, only at the end telling the readers who may not know that the building houses a post office down stairs.

Every word in the article about the building was true, but it did leave the wrong impression to those who may not be familiar with Florence's main post office. Here's a few facts about the edifice. They need to be expanded upon, and we appreciate reader input.

1. The neoclassical building, constructed in 1913, was indeed intended as the post office for that fair city. It was long rumored that the plans were for a facility in Florence, South Carolina, but those who have been privileged to see the original drawings of the post office sent from Washington have noted the word "Alabama" on the description.

2. While it is a Federal Court House, it was not named until local attorney and current Lauderale license commissioner William Smith waged a three year campaign to honor John McKinley, a Supreme Court justice from Alabama. It was officially named in 1999, after only 86 years as a generic federal edifice. The court house facilities take up only 20 to 25 percent of the building.

3. Several individuals have taken ill over the years after climbing the front steps. The steep incline of the building's frontage is either a Nike wearer's dream or a cardiac patient's worst nightmare. We're not aware of any who have passed away at the post office itself, but we do welcome addenda to this point.

4. In 1960, Florence youth Bobby Isley died after sliding down the banister from the second floor. At that time local military recruiters were housed in the upstairs offices, and many young boys visited after school to talk with the personnel or to collect various brochures. It apparently wasn't unusual for the youths to attempt to descend in the most rapid manner, but the ten-year old Isley fell head-first and died later that February afternoon. Bobby's father was the assistant fire chief in Florence and well known in the community. Officials then placed preventative measures on the stairway.

5. 2013 marks the building's centennial. Anyone having a party?


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