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The Little Post Office

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1893. 207 Starling Ave.

This tiny brick building is a reminder of the vast star route mail system of the second half of the nineteenth century. Star routes, so called because they were marked with an asterisk in post office records, were off the railroad lines. They were the small routes let out to contract speculators who usually subcontracted to carriers who, in turn, ordinarily carried the mail by horseback or wagon to post offices in country stores. In the course of the early twentieth century, the star route system gave way to Rural Free Delivery with mail handled directly by the government at cost.

The Little Post Office was the headquarters of John B. Anglin, a Martinsville contractor with more than three hundred routes in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. It is a small brick office built with a frame outbuilding to the rear, probably constructed about the same time, and later connected to the office with frame infill. The simple office has segmental arches over the openings and an entrance with a single-light transom above a door with characteristic Queen Anne glazing featuring a large sheet of glass surrounded by small panes of colored glass. The gabled entrance hood is bracketed and has Stick Style decoration. This surviving building of the star route system is also a reminder of the many small offices with a variety of functions that dotted yards well into the twentieth century.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "The Little Post Office", [Martinsville, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 232-232.

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