The Hope post office was begun in 1911 and completed in 1912. Apparently, nothing unusual occurred with the facility until 1964, when the Federal government decided a new facility was needed due to growth of mail volume, and the plans to put a sorting facility in Hope, which would also necessitate more space. The fight was on.
There won’t be any new Hope post office. No one wants it…and to say Hope needs it, in view of the population decline in our county and all southwest Arkansas is absurd. (A. H. Washburn, “Economy begins with a grassroots ‘No!’ to ‘Grants’ that are only a piece of debt.” Hope Star, 3 January 1964, p. 1)
Mr. Washburn, the editor of the Hope Star, went on to say
Congressmen and senators do in the main only what the people back home want them to do. The Arkansas delegation are my personal friends, and a widely-circulated petition will be enough.
I presume Mr. Washburn meant enough to stop the Feds from building a new post office that he had deemed was not necessary.
This beautiful building is in right downtown Hope, and on what no doubt was a lovely street. While Mr. Washburn’s argument centered around the cost of the new post office, he strongly believed that no larger building was necessary, due to the decline in population in the area. He made no mention of the arguments related to the increase in mail volume, and the need for a sorting facility in the area, for which Hope was the desired location.
I kind of had to wonder what alternate universe he was living in that even in 1964 he believed Congress “do in the main only what the people back home want them to do.” In spite of an extensive campaign by the Star, which garnered a bit of publicity, the new post office (and sorting facility) was built in 1966.
A story on the history of the post office published by the Hope Star 14 December 1968 presented a rather different view of the need for the new postal facility. By 1968, the former post office was in use as a school administration building, a function it still serves. This transition was made because
…it was bursting at the seams with the volume of business…the murmured desire for a new post office became a cry of desperate need. (p. 6)
Looks like someone finally figured out that having fewer people in a county or city did not necessarily mean the mail volume would decrease as well…and maybe someone thought having the economic advantages of having a mail sorting facility and its payroll might be beneficial also.
Post office or school administration building, it is a beautiful and solid looking building, standing regally over the other buildings on the street. So in one way, Mr. Washburn was right: the building could certainly last longer than 50 years.
Note: Mr. Washburn reported in one of his editorials that the post office offered to buy his building, located next door to the post office and expand the current postal facility. He deemed that unnecessary and a waste of money as well, even though he had plans to move his newspaper several blocks over within the next few years.