BAGDAD VILLAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES - SANTA ROSA COUNTY, FL
Old Bagdad Post Office - Thompson Street
Within the historic Village of Bagdad, Thompson Street comprised the town center. Most of the stores that lined the street were single story Shotgun style houses with the exception of the two story Courson’s Café & Boarding House. Besides two boarding houses, villagers sought their groceries, shoe repair, textiles, and home goods here. A couple of barbers and eateries as well as a fish house, doctor’s office, and a post office also lined the street.
(Above) Thompson Street comprised the town center. Most of the stores that lined the street were single story Shotgun style houses except for Courson's Cafe & Boarding House.
(Above) Standing in front of the Bagdad Post Office are Emma Joyner, Mary Joyner, and Julia McArthur. Mary, pictured in the center, was appointed as Postmistress of Bagdad in 1896 by President William McKinley.
Today, the only remaining structure of Bagdad's town center is the old Post Office building. Records indicate the postal service began in Bagdad around 1867. Alexander H. Green is the first recorded Postmaster in 1877, then Philip Hannah in 1891, followed by Thomas B. Meaker in 1894. Mr. Meaker served as the Postmaster using a portion of Bunk Greenwood’s store on Thompson Street as a post office.
In 1896, President William McKinley appointed Miss Mary Joyner as the next Postmistress of Bagdad. She was reappointed by every president thereafter until she retired in 1940. After Miss Joyner’s retirement, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Mrs. Gertrude Gauger as the new Postmistress. Prior to her promotion, Mrs. Gauger started her career at the Bagdad Post Office in 1933 at the age of 21.
Mail was first delivered to Bagdad by way of boat on the Blackwater River. The service ran twice a week, increasing to once a day in the years that followed. Eventually, mail came seven days a week by way of train. A mail messenger met the train each day at the depot, running the mail to and from the Bagdad Post Office. Around 1970, mail came by way of truck which unfortunately reduced the promptness of the service.
(Left) Some of the original post office boxes are on display at the Historic Bagdad Village Museum on Church Street. The doors are made of brass and have oxidized over time giving the boxes a beautiful patina.
The Bagdad Post Office was built in 1913 on a section of property on Thompson Street that was deeded from the Bagdad Lumber Company to Mary Joyner. The small building sat next to her house which was built the year before in 1912. In 1948, Mrs. Gertrude Gauger and her husband, Richard, bought the home. Mrs. Gauger remained the Postmistress until her retirement in 1975.
(Right) Mary Joyner served as the Postmistress in Bagdad for 44 years. She recalled that the mail was received twice weekly by way of boat on the Blackwater River.
A new Post Office was built on Forsyth Street in 1986, leaving the original building vacant. In 1992, the Gauger heirs graciously donated the property to the Bagdad Village Preservation Association. The old Post Office is in the process of restoration and is one of the many sites in the Historic District that contribute to Bagdad’s rich history, landing it on the National Register of Historic Places.