Located on Singletons main thoroughfare, the retired Singleton Post Office is one of the most iconic buildings in the local area. Whether you’re a lover of architecture or not, we are sure you would recognise the big, orange, heritage-listed building nestled on the Northern end of George Street. What you might not know however, is that it dates back to 1878, holds some unique claims to fame as well as some important keys which unlock part of Singleton vast history.
The George Street Post Office is a Victorian Italianate Style, two-story building with an arched colonnade and upper-story verandah at street face. With its unique colour palette of Burnt Orange, Burgundy and White; some describe it as historic, others as obnoxious but all would recognize it by its very description.
The original building was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet and built in 1878 by William Dart. Holding one of the most unique claims to fame in Australia’s postal history it was the very first country post office to have Private Letter Boxes installed. These boxes were based on an American design which had a copper alloy frame and doors to ensure security. According to The Maitland Mercury each of the boxes had an individual key and “that the little locks are marvels of ingenuity”. How much would you expect to have paid for 24/7 access to your mail in the late 1800’s? Well, it was just £1 per year!
When Singleton was first proclaimed in 1835, land was quickly purchased for as little as $19,500. With the areas increasing population, pressure for better postal facilities became a hot topic of discussion. At the time of the build, it cost a whopping £3,670 ($3.2 million) which was an extraordinary amount for any similar designed Post Office Building of its era. To put it into perspective, the Campbelltown Post Office was built for £2,400!
In 1899, the front lobby was closed in to provide a telephone exchange and Barnet’s successor, Walter Vernon designed additions c. 1900. Throughout the years there were various additions and alterations made to the building as the community continued to grow and prosper. This included the upper-level roof to cover an added veranda and alterations to the East and West corners. For over 95 years the building serviced the Singleton and surrounding areas as the main postal facility, finally closing its doors in 1974 when the new Post Office in John Street was completed.
In more recent years, the building has been converted into a multi-unit complex comprising of 5 individual units. The new owners have some fabulous plans for the heritage-listed building however they do plan to continue with the accommodation for the foreseeable future. We cannot wait to see how this iconic building is transformed over the coming years. We, along with many of Singletons residents will be watching and waiting in anticipation for the wonderful updates they have in store.