Tuesday, April 17, 1917 was a big day in Merrill as it was the opening day for the new federal building at 430 E. Second St., known today as the Merrill Post Office.
In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Post Office Building, the US Postal Service and Merrill Historical Society have activities and exhibits planned for the public, beginning with a festive day at the Post Office Building on Saturday, April 29.
Historical displays of postal artifacts and photos are set up in the Post Office lobby and are already attracting the interest of postal customers. These displays continue to change and expand as more items are located. Merrill Postmaster Joelle Nelson says, “Everyone here at the Merrill Post Office is eager to provide everyone with a fun experience while celebrating the centennial of this building.”
Retired Letter Carrier Ron Behm will be outside the post office building with his dog sled team on April 29th as a reminder that mail didn’t always arrive in a motor-powered vehicle. Postmaster Nelson and Lakeland District Business Development Specialist Dave Janda will be available inside the Post Office to share the many ways the US Postal Service has changed and the services they currently provide.
Also on April 29, behind-the-scenes tours of the Post Office led by retired postal employees will be given to those participating in the Merrill Historical Society 2017 History Hunt. The tours will include a history presentation, a look at the walk-in safe, and a look at the entrances to the secret passages, (otherwise known as the look-out galleys used by the US Postal Inspection Service). Each History Hunt team will have the opportunity to be weighed on the bulk mail scale, after which they will receive their team weight on a dispatch ticket marked with the date and a special commemorative stamp. After April 29th, tours for the general public can be arranged by contacting the Post Office at 715-539-3287.
“Registration for the 2017 History Hunt is open through April 27,” says Hunt planner Jane Francoeur. “You can get a registration form from the Historical Society’s website at www.merrillhistory.org. Besides the Merrill Post Office, the Hunt this year will take participants out in the country to visit the location of 12 rural post offices and learn about some of the colorful history of our area.”
A new exhibit featuring an overview of the US Postal Service, including some history on railroad postal cars, will open May 1st at the Merrill History & Culture Center, 100 E. Third Street in Merrill. According to exhibit chairperson Pat Burg, the exhibit will also tell the story of some of Merrill’s early Letter Carriers and Post Offices. A small model train layout in the lower level will showcase the interesting way that railroads came to be part of the mail delivery system. The Society plans to create a Merrill postal time capsule to be opened 50 years from now. For further information on the dates and times for the exhibit, or to loan items for this exhibit, please contact Merrill Historical Society at 715-536-5652 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the website at www.merrillhistory.org.