Two years ago, despite a public campaign by business owners along Greenport’s Main Street, the antique blue mailbox nailed to a cement post outside Claudio’s Restaurant was unceremoniously taken down after decades at the spot.
But on Tuesday, the cast-iron mailbox was suddenly back just as quickly as it had been removed, now sporting a new sticker confirming it’ll be used as an active postal box.
Andrew Rowsom, co-owner of Preston’s Marine Supply across the street, said he noticed the mailbox had been installed Tuesday morning. The news drew gasps from nearby workers who were shocked to see the unexpected return of their beloved mailbox.
“It belonged there, you know?” said Marie Doroski, a longtime employee at Preston’s gift shop across the street.
A coworker raced to see if the mailbox was the same one. Sure enough, the letter box was the original, complete with its signature metallic clang when the metal tab is pulled down.
The collection box — which is believed to be at least 40 years old — was used by local business owners and was retouched years ago with a new layer of blue paint. It also served as a mini tourist attraction for visitors to the Greenport waterfront, who would take pictures next to the antique.
The box was removed last July, after a manager from the U.S. Postal Service noticed the box in Greenport and determined it was too small to hold packages or large envelopes, according to a postal service spokesperson.
The postal service claimed the antique mailbox didn’t “fit today’s needs” and replaced it with a new postal box near Capital One bank farther up Main Street. In the intervening time, the mailbox was held by the postal service; officials at the time said the box would be shipped away to a postal service museum, though local business groups fought that proposal.
Claudio’s co-owner Jan Claudio, who had pushed to have the mailbox maintained years ago, said she had reached out to a new manager at the postal service, Frank Calabrese, about finding a way to return the mailbox to Greenport.
Mr. Calabrese had promised to look into the situation, and the mailbox was reinstalled without fanfare Tuesday.
Ms. Claudio called it a “really good day” and thanked Mr. Calabrese for returning the mailbox.
“[He’s a] good man,” she wrote in an email to The Suffolk Times. “Hats off to him.”