One of the most lamented of all buildings ever torn down in Grand Falls-Windsor has to be the old Post Office/Government Building on High Street.
It was where people got their mail, telegrams were sent and received, where the war news and casualty lists were read, court cases and inquiries were heard and people received their drivers licences, it even served as a recruiting station.
The year that that building was built has been subject to some debate. I have always stuck to my guns that it was built in 1911 or later. Why? Because I saw the correspondence in which Anglo-Newfoundland Development company officials were writing the government detailing how the original post office was not adequate enough for the growing town. This letter, somewhere in the bowels of the MUN Library was dated 1911.
An unpublished history of the AND Company offered the following on the matter:
The Newfoundland Government which has been watching the rise of Grand Falls with close attention, soon realized that it had responsibilities to this growing community. The simple Post Office, for instance, was quite inadequate to serve the needs of the town and in 1912 the authorities constructed a large building on high street to accommodate a new Post Office, Customs Office, Magistrates Office, courthouse and in the basement, a lock up for miscreants, though it should be recorded that crime has never been a problem at Grand Falls.
I am inclined to believe that much of the cost of this fine building was born by the Company, since if I recall correctly, they offered to build it in the fore mentioned letter. So it is very likely that the AND Co bore some of the cost of the building, it is very likely the provided some if not all of the labor.
The old Post office served in its multitude of Government service roles for over 50 years. In the mid 50’s the post office moved to a new modern building directly across the road. In 1968 the present day Provincial Building was built across from the vocational school on St. Catherine Street. Since the old building was no longer needed for government services, it was sold. It was bought by the Royal Bank who were looking for a new location, I don’t think they had any intentions of using the old building but wanted the land. Ultimately the this fine old building met the wrecking ball (literally, I’ll post the picture) in the middle of August 1969.
Ultimately the site became a parking lot.
I don’t know the condition of the building at the time. It was 57 years old, but it seems to really and truly to have been a waste, the old building was constructed of either concrete or stone and was built to last for hundreds of years, it is also a much more architecturally pleasing building to look at than the Town Hall. This imposing structure would have been a great addition to the revitalized High Street.
People in Grand Falls-Windsor in hindsight often lament how much history has been torn down, but ultimately it the people of the Town, nor the Town Council that tore down this building; it was the Royal Bank, who must likely bought the building from the Provincial Government.