By Peter Zablocki
Denville is steeped in rich history, and you’ll find interesting stories around nearly every corner. The post office in town is no exception. Read on to learn a bit more about its origin.
In this digital age, when more things become obsolete each day, one can still bet on making at least one annual trip to the post office. And while it may not be a chore we look forward to, that was not always the case, at least in Denville. From the late 1800s to shortly after the town’s incorporation in 1913, the Denville Post Office was located in the town center—in the building that now houses the 7 West Hair Designers. The structure looked timid in contrast to its neighbors, the grand Hinchman home that once stood where the Denville Clock now sits and the Dickerson mansion, today’s site of The Starbucks building.
Although Daniel Righter was Denville’s first postmaster in 1913, his wife, Mrs. Righter, did most of the mail sorting. Instead, Daniel ran a small general store business from the Denville Post Office’s storefront, where he sold postcards, ink, stationery, candy, cigars, and other items. The mail arrived at scheduled hours via Mr. Righter’s worker, who traveled on a bicycle from the nearby Denville Train Station. It would then take quite some time to sort out all the mail—it was not until the 1920s that the townsfolk had their individual boxes at the post office and another two decades before the town began home mail delivery.
When the mail arrived, the locals would flock to the Post Office, where they would hang around and chat about local and world events while awaiting their parcels and letters. Unlike today, when going to the post office may seem like something one must do, when Denville received its own zip code back in 1913, the post office was the best and happiest place to be if one wanted to catch up on the news or run into people they might otherwise miss around town.
So next time you stand at a red light at the corner of Diamond Spring, Broadway, and West Main Street, look at the building that once housed the town’s post office, and try to imagine the happy place that brought people together each and every day, over one hundred years ago—the Denville Post Office.
Peter Zablocki is a local historian, author, and educator. He can be reached at peterzablocki.com.