Effort underway to restore Rehoboth Beach Post Office

Main Street spearheading project to get 90-year-old building on National Register of Historic Places
April 2, 2024

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Post Office
179 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Rehoboth Beach has two places on the National Register of Historic Places – the Woman's Christian Temperance Union water fountain on the Boardwalk and All Saints' Episcopal Church on Olive Avenue.

If Rehoboth Beach Main Street’s Suzie Martin and Cindy Lovett have anything to do about it, the Rehoboth Beach Post Office on Rehoboth Avenue will soon be added to that list.

“It’s a beautiful old gem that’s a little down on its heels. It just needs some help,” said Martin, during a recent tour of the facility.

Constructed in 1937, Martin said there hasn’t been much work done to the structure in the past 90 years. They added a third window at some point, but that’s about it, she said.

Representing Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Lovett brought the project forward to city commissioners a couple of months ago. Commissioners were quick to support the idea, especially after Lovett said she wasn’t asking for money. Soon after, Commissioner Patrick Gossett was named as a commissioner liaison.

The U.S. Postal Service is also on board.

Rehoboth Beach Postmaster Dionne Watts said it’s a great idea. There’s been work done in the past, but it’s been Band-Aid repairs, she said.

“I’ve been in a lot of post offices and this is an amazing building,” said Watts.

Lovett and Martin have been in contact with Dan Parsons, Sussex County's historic preservation planner, and Emily Whaley, an architectural historian for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The plan is to get a historic nomination and then a historical designation, which will make the project available for federal and state grants, said Lovett.

The building is a fallout shelter, so it’s soundly built, but its age is revealed when taking a closer look – the lights outside are beginning to rust and fall apart; the original wood floors are worn; there’s a leak in the back corner that’s led to water damage on the first floor walls and standing water in the basement; there’s mold in portions of the basement.

However, Lovett said, there are other areas that really just need a deep cleaning, which would work wonders. She specifically mentioned the mural in the lobby by American artist Karl Knaths titled “Frontier Mail,” and the pink marble on the walls.

As important as anything, said Lovett, is that the building is not ADA accessible.

Martin said there’s a definite need to fix and keep a post office downtown. There’s a constant flow of people in and out, she said.

“This is a place of congregation. Rehoboth is still small-town enough for that,” said Martin.

Looking forward, there’s a tedious amount of paperwork to be done, said Lovett. When that’s done, and the nomination is made, that’s when a conservation architect can come in with a real list of what needs to be done. Then a capital campaign can begin, she said.

“This is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar undertaking,” said Lovett. “We’re committed to making this happen.”


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