The grand Jersey City Post Office at Montgomery and York Streets, built in 1911 by the Hedden Construction Company, was dedicated on November 7, 1913. The Italian Renaissance design graces the building with exterior walls of Mt. Waldo granite. The façade on Washington Street has fluted Corinthian columns and carved capitals flanked by piers with Corinthian-style pilasters. The pavilions on the Montgomery and York Street facades also have pilasters of the Corinthian order. The two-story building with a basement and attic is 177 feet by 129 feet. The roof is made of copper and the exterior window and door frames are of cast bronze and bronze-covered wood, iron, and steel. Tiffany Studio designed the interior and supplied the bronzes like lanterns.
One enters the Post Office building to the main lobby from broad flights of stairs on both Montgomery and York Streets. The public lobbies are decorated in Kingwood sandstone and Botticine marble. The ceiling of the main corridor on the first floor is decorated in solid gold leaf. The interior construction has steel columns and beams and is fireproofed with terra cotta.
On June 16, 2008, the post office was rededicated and named for former US Representative Frank J. Guarini. A native of Jersey City, Guarini graduated Lincoln High School in 1942 and fought in World War II as a Navy Reserve lieutenant aboard the USS Mount McKinley. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he earned Juris doctor and master of law degrees from New York University. Guarini served in the NJ Senate from 1965 to 1972 and in the US Congress from 1979 to 1983. His philanthropy includes generous donations to educational institutions such as the library at New Jersey City University and the Center for Government Affairs at Saint Peter's University, both named in his honor.
Post Office History
The Montgomery Street post office was not Jersey City's first. Its postal regulations date back to those established by Director-General Peter Stuyvesant and his council for New Netherland in the 1660s. Mail came into Paulus Hook by stagecoach from places like Philadelphia and New Amsterdam. In 1807, Jersey City obtained its own post office with Samuel Beach appointed as the first postmaster. At the time, the post office facility was usually placed in the home or at the place of business of the postmaster. For example, when William Lyon, a grocer, became postmaster (1820-1835), the post office was at the grocery store on the corner of Montgomery and Washington Street. The Jersey City post office, therefore, moved several times with each new postmaster. This practice ended in 1853 when Jersey City was designated for first-class postal status due to its volume of mail. An old frame building at 255 Washington Street became its postal facility.
Ten years later, the post office moved to 251 Washington Street, between Montgomery and York Streets, in the old Hudson County National Bank Building, where it functioned in the basement. The location of the post office was always in dispute due to practices unfamiliar to us today. Before the use of stamps, postage was collected from the recipient of the letter. Mail was not delivered to the home, but one traveled to the post office to collect the mail. Home delivery by postal carriers did not begin until 1867.
In 1873, the US Congress appropriated $100,000 for a new post office but not enough for a new building. The city, therefore, purchased the former residence of Jersey City's first mayor, Dudley S. Gregory, at Washington and Sussex Streets. Over the years, it was extended and renovated but could not accommodate the growing volume of mail. In 1913, the new main post office opened for the growing community.
Additional post offices were opened in Jersey City: Bergen (528 Bergen Avenue; Jackson Avenue (163 Claremont Avenue); Five Corners (645 Newark Avenue); Journal Square (899 Bergen Avenue); Greenville (137 Ocean Avenue); Gen. Lafayette (322 Pacific Avenue); Hudson City (392 Central Avenue); and Westside Avenue (504 Westside Avenue).
"The Jersey City Post Office." ts. Joan D. Lovero Collection, Jersey City Free Public Library, October 1964.
Miller, E.W. "Jersey City Post Office: Past and Present." (Dedication) Jersey City: Jersey City Free Public Library, 7 November 1913.
Thorbourne, Ken. "Honor for Guarini." Jersey Journal 17 June 2008.