Exploring Newtown’s Historical Places: The Former Botsford Post Office
Discover the past and present of some of Newtown’s lesser-known historical sites in The Newtown Bee’s series dedicated to retracing the role these places once played in town and what they stand as today.
Formerly: The Botsford Post Office (originally called the Cold Spring Post Office)
Currently: Owned by Conor Investments LLC
Location: 26 Botsford Hill Road
When was it built or established? The colonial-style building was built in 1894, according to the Newtown Tax Assessor’s records.
However, Images of America: Newtown 1900-1960 by Town Historian Daniel Cruson states, “Albert Blakeman built this store, post office, and residence in 1893.”
Mr Cruson clarified the date differences, telling The Newtown Bee, “Frequently, one source will give the date the construction was begun and another will give the date when construction was finished and business was begun. In cases like this, I generally use the first date, since it reflects more correctly the time when the cultural forces, which guided the form and function, are sharpest.”
What is its historical significance? Newtown’s first post office was established on January 1, 1801 with Caleb Brown as postmaster, nearly half a century before the Cold Spring Post Office was founded.
“When the Housatonic railroad was finished so that trains began to run on schedule time, it was plain [to see] that new conditions called for two more post offices in Newtown, one at Cold Spring, the other at Hawleyville,” former Newtown historian Ezra Levan Johnson reported in his book Newtown 1705-1918.
The Cold Spring Post Office was established November 10, 1843, with Edwin Botsford serving as its first postmaster. Mr Botsford held the position for six years, until his son, Oliver S. Botsford, became his successor in 1849.
When Oliver S. Botsford retired from the position in 1883, the town honored him by having the Cold Spring Post Office — and the entire section of town — renamed “Botsford” in the spring of 1883.
Austin B. Blakeman was appointed postmaster of the Botsford Post Office on September 28, 1883.
Ten years later his brother Albert Blakeman built the 26 Botsford Hill Road building, which is just east of the railroad underpass.
Mr Cruson believes that prior to the building being built the original post office resided in the Botsford Railroad Station from the time Oliver Botsford served as postmaster.
On November 3, 1910, Lawrence Taylor was appointed postmaster for the Botsford Post Office, the fourth in a nearly 70-year history.
The Newtown Bee reported in its March 11, 1983 edition (“Botsford PO Delivers A Century Of Service”) that after Lawrence Taylor was postmaster, “Henry Goulden followed him in November 1917, and Albert Rasmussen became the postmaster in April 1920.”
Mr Rasmussen (born 1895) served the longest term as postmaster, according to Images of America: Newtown. He ran the post office and his general store there — and even lived in the building — until his death in 1961.
After 1961, the post office changed locations and moved to South Main Street. Anna Maye became postmistress, serving for nearly 20 years until her retirement in March 1980. Mrs Maye died on October 12, 2019, at the age of 105.
The Botsford Post Office then moved to its current location, a 3,100-square-foot building at 1 Botsford Hill Road, on May 28, 2002.
As for what happened to the 26 Botsford Hill Road building once the Botsford Post Office moved out, Mr Cruson told The Newtown Bee, “It was an antique store for many years.”
What occupies it today? Not much is clear as to what the building currently stands as in 2019. Conor Investments LLC is listed as the current owner of the property and was not able to be reached for comment at the time of print.
Interested in learning more about a specific historical place in Newtown? Send suggestions to features reporter Alissa Silber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-426-3141.