Post Office

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LOCAL NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PAYETTE MAIN POST OFFICE
From National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, January 30, 1989
H.J. "Jim" Kolva and Steve Franks



"Boise Newspaper Boosts Payette & Payette Valley" reported the Pavette Independent on October 24th, 1930. A Boise paper had recently reported that Payette was "the principal distribution center for all the vast tributary country," had prosperous farming and dairy industries, was a prosperous and progressive "optimistic" community of 2,000 people, and was a city "of smiling merchants" (Payette Independent, October 24, 1930). A year later the Pavette Independent reported "U.S. Gov. To Spend Liberally in Idaho". "The federal department of agriculture will spend $8,051,565 in Idaho in 1931 and $5,928,494 in 1932 to improve agriculture, livestock, forestry and road conditions" (Payette Independent, April 9, 1931).

On June 2nd, 1932 the paper reported "Payette May Get Federal Building," observing that if the current public works bill passed "Payette will have an excellent start on the way for a new Post Office" (Payette Independent, June 2, 1932). In 1933 and 1934 headlines in the Independent continued to report encouraging news for the town: "Building Boom Hits Payette As Faith in Future Returns" (Payette Independent, April 20, 1933); "Big Apple Harvest Starts in Payette Valley Section" (Payette Independent, September 21, 1933); "Federal Work To Start in Payette County At Once" 125 men were to work under a new CWA program doing street and road work, drainage work, and Payette River control work (Payette Independent, November 23, 1933); "Many Men Get Work Under ERA" 150 men were working under the Emergency Relief Administration doing road and flood control work and cleaning the cemetery, earning 50 cents an hour (Payette Independent, May 10, 1934). An article of March 29th, 1934 noted "Payette is in some measure an industrial city with fruit driers, packing plants, cannery and other industries which can only give seasonal employment. This leaves a considerable number of people who must have employment during the slack season and an energetic effort will be made to secure federal work for these people" (Payette Independent, March 29, 1934).

"Solicit Bids for Postoffice Site" read an Independent headline of August 22nd, 1935 (Payette Independent, August 22, 1935). Bids for the new federal building were requested to be turned in to Postmaster Albert White by September 5th. (No previous mention of the federal building could be found in the Payette Independent, except for the June 2nd, 1932 article, though some early issues are missing.) The building's cost was estimated at $72,000. Nine bids, ranging from $1,250 to $11,500, were received (Payette Independent, September 5, 1935); on September 19th it was reported that P.O. Site Inspector Fitzgerald was in Payette inspecting the sites and interviewing the owners and local businessmen "asking their opinion of the various sites". On October 17th the Payette Independent announced that a site across from the city park had been selected. The site was occupied by the Evergreen Service Station and the residence of Jennie Wilson and Bert Venable; "consideration is given at $7,000" the paper reported (Payette Independent, October 17, 1935). According to an article of October 24th, the post office department engineer was expected "about October 28 to start the plans for the new building, as the government officials desired to start the work as soon as possible, to furnish work and assist in relieving the unemployed situation" (Payette Independent, October 28, 1935)

In January 1936 the two Payette papers consolidated and the Pavette Independent became the Independent-Enterprise. On February 20th the paper reported a new WPA project to construct a new school gym and auditorium in Payette (Independent Enterprise, February 20, 1936). The paper also reported post office plans were being prepared (Independent Enterprise, March 19, 1936) and that Congressman Compton White was expediting the final purchase of the property (Independent Enterprise, April 23, 1936). On April 30th construction bids were requested and the paper commented: "Payette is extremely fortunate the new building will afford a valuable asset to the city" (Independent Enterprise, April 30, 1936)

Another article the same day reported that Postmaster White had received the building plans and "from all indications Payette is to be favored with a modern postoffice building of concrete, stone and brick construction which would do credit to a city many times the size. The new structure will cost approximately $75,000 and is of a most artistic design" (Independent Enterprise, April 30, 1936). Before long the construction contract was awarded to the Fred R. Comb Company of Minneapolis for $58,525 and crews were removing structures from the site ( (Independent Enterprise, June 4, 1936). But it was soon reported that new bids were being requested. The previous bids were in excess of the amount available for construction; the $72,000 appropriation had to cover site purchase, equipping of the building, cost of plans, and landscaping (Independent Enterprise, June 25th and July 9th, 1936). The subsequent delay was reported on August 27th, with the paper noting "Payette residents are most anxious that this work be started as soon as possible and further delay ... is not meeting with general public approval" (Independent Enterprise, August 27, 1936)

Finally, on October 22nd new bids were requested (with the paper observing "the new postoffice building for Payette has been exceptionally slow in maturing") (Independent Enterprise, October 22, 1936). An article of November 5th described the revised building and reported that "the building is so designed that an annex might be built on to the postoffice if an increase in the population of Payette should require it a few years from now" (Independent Enterprise, November 5, 1936) On November 19th the construction contract was awarded to the Comb Company with a low bid of $53,525 (Independent Enterprise, November 26, 1936).

On March 4th, 1937 the paper could finally report that excavation had begun and construction would start the next Monday, with the building to be ready for occupancy by October. It was also reported that the original appropriation was $72,000 but an additional allowance of $9,000 had been made, for a total appropriation of $81,000, and that "extensive plans for landscaping are provided" (Independent Enterprise, March 4, 1937) "Federal Building Most Attractive" read a Independent-Enterprise headline of July 8th; the shell was nearly completed and the building was predicted "To Be Show Place Of The City." The "special limestone decorations" featuring the three principal means of mail transportation were described and the paper noted "Payette residents are assured of having one of the most beautiful post office buildings in this section. Although smaller than some, the design and location will add much to its beauty" (Independent Enterprise, July 8, 1937)

On September 23rd it was reported work was progressing and that the building would be ready for occupancy November 1st (Independent Enterprise, September 23, 1937). The basement was excavated but left unfinished; postal authorities were considering finishing the space for the County Agent's office. "Postoffice Will Move on Sunday" was the news of November 4th. Payette's new postmaster Logan Bowman was quoted as saying that patrons would receive their Sunday mail in the new building; the paper concluded its coverage of construction by predicting "Patron's ... will literally step into another world when they enter the new structure for the first time" (Independent Enterprise, November 4, 1937)










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