Before Racine was officially a city, and even before Wisconsin was declared a state, this area got its first postal service. In February 1836, the government opened a post office at the Root River rapids (near the Horlick Dam site), in what was then called the Root River Michigan Territory, according to records at the Racine Heritage Museum.
Our first postmaster, A.B. Sexton, served at that location. In May of that year, the post office was transferred to the Village of Racine and Bushnell B. Cary succeeded Sexton as postmaster. Cary was also Racine's first physician.
During those early years, the post office was not a full-time operation, and the space it occupied was not owned by the postal service. The postmaster position was also part-time. Because of these factors, the office's location and the person who served as postmaster changed frequently.
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In 1838, the post office was on the east side of Main Street, between Second and Third streets. By 1843 it had moved to the west side of the street, a few doors north of Third Street. Two years later, it moved to the west side of Wisconsin Street, midway between Fourth and Fifth streets. By 1850, it had returned to Main, where it occupied a store building just south of Third Street on the west side (the address then was 96 Main St.)
Eight years later, the office moved to Third Street near Lake Avenue (then called Chatham Street). It stayed there until 1862 when it moved back to Main Street, this time into the Masonic Building. The address then was 143 Main; today that spot is 417 Main St. In 1874 the post office took up residence in the Gorton Building (now M&I Bank) on the northeast corner of Main and Fifth streets. This was the last location the government rented for the Racine Post Office, and it was where the post office stayed the longest, until a permanent structure was built.
The first government-owned postal building here, at the southeast corner of Main and Sixth streets, was built and occupied in 1897. The property it was erected on cost the government $30,000, and construction costs for the all-stone structure totaled $70,000. Its architecture drew some criticism from residents because the building resembled a church, according to historical newspaper reports.
That building served as the city's post office until the present building was erected on the same site, at a cost of $387,000, according to Postmaster Ronald Britten. The current post office was first occupied on July 26, 1931. While the “new" structure was being built, the post office was housed in a temporary location in the Shoop Building, 215 State St.
Since then, the city has addedother branches, including the State Street Station in 1949; the former West Racine branch, housed in a leased property at 1219 Grove Ave.; and the West Racine Station, 1300 Perry Ave.
A new post office is under construction just west of the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Four Mile Road. By the time it is completed (expected date is July 30), Britten said, the project is expected to have cost nearly six million dollars.
“We hope to be in there by September," he said