The Closing of the West McHenry Post Office

When the McHenry Post Office moved in 1882, it opened up one of the most interesting parts of the city’s history. For many years, McHenry was the only city in the country with two Post Offices in one zip code and surprisingly, it had some rather colorful events. (There was another fire on the north block in 1906 that left the post office scorched and drenched, but otherwise unharmed.) From the postal robbery in 1911 and the Justen Block fire in 1926, the location wasn’t boring, to say the least. The Post Office had about 100 boxes in the 1920s and increased to about 120 in 1935.

1965 (39)
Picture of West McHenry Post Office in 1965.

After being housed in the Justen block since 1919, the West McHenry Post Office moved across the street to what was known as the Freund block on April 28, 1940. (The business there currently is the Gifts of Joy.) Eber Bassett was Postmaster for many years from about 1906 until his retirement in 1935 when Elmer Freund then took over. The post office functioned as its own entity until February 28, 1950, at which time the federal government then designated the West McHenry Post Office as a “postal station”. It would function essentially as it always had, with Elmer Freund being designated as a superintendent. Although people were somewhat disappointed by McHenry’s loss of “postal distinctiveness”, the West McHenry Post Office was as busy as ever.

Mailboxes from the old post office now housed at the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum in Union. Photo courtesy of Pat Wirtz.

In 1958, the McHenry Post Office opened its new building on Green Street (now home of Jett’s Heating & Air) which greatly expanded the size for better service and modernized the equipment for the Post Office. In many ways, it was the death knell for the West McHenry office. With a new building, the economy at the time, and people being able to travel more easily with automobiles, the justification for McHenry having two postal entities became harder and harder to defend.

Sign from the old post office now housed at the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum in Union. Photo courtesy of Pat Wirtz.

In late Oct 1965, McHenry Postmaster Leroy Smith was notified that the lease to the West McHenry Postal Station had been terminated and that the station would be absorbed into the McHenry Post Office starting November 11. The people of West McHenry were very disappointed, there was even a petition passed around, but was to no avail. On Thursday, November 11, 1965, the West McHenry station closed its doors for the last time and passed into history.

Sanborn map from 1933, note location of old “Justen” Post Office on the left.



“West McHenry Post Office, Long Part Of City, Becomes Station.” The McHenry Plaindealer. 2 Mar 1950: 1. Web. 9 March 2018.
“West McHenry Station Closes Doors Nov. 11” The McHenry Plaindealer. 28 Oct 1965: 1. Web. 30 September 2018.
“West McHenry Station.” The McHenry Plaindealer. 9 Mar 1950: 1. Web. 31 March 2018.
“Dedicate New Post Office May 4.” The McHenry Plaindealer. 30 Apr 1958: 1, 8. Web. 26 September 2018.