As a child, I saw and personally experienced what Roosevelt was talking about. For example, there was a post office on the second and third floors of a building on State Street near the library. I recall walking hand-in-hand with my father to mail a letter. We had to climb flights of stairs to get to a room known as a post office. A few years later, it relocated from State Street to a building on Inn Street, a few doors down from Pleasant Street and close to The Daily News’ office then.
Eventually, they gave Roosevelt “permission” to build new post offices across the country, but provided no funds to do so. The money simply was not available for construction. But Roosevelt had a plan that did not fail.
It was now 1936 and the president called on the Works Progress Administration and the CCC Boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps to do the job. He told them to work with the government and find centrally located property in common areas, near a city building such as a City Hall at near the center of a town, city park or town common.
In Newburyport, a centrally located site was selected at the corner of Green and Pleasant streets, where the post office still stands today. It was a busy corner where people coming and going from City Hall always met. However, John Donahue’s Diner, which was owned and operated by John Donahue and his son, was located on that corner.
The government wanted that corner and bought Donahue out so that the post office could be built there. I was living on Unicorn Street at the time and as a young man I watched the post office being constructed. From what I was told, John Donahue did quite well in receiving a considerable sum for selling that corner — a lot of money in those days! Then, he moved his trade to Inn Street just a few doors down from Pleasant Street.