Jan. 18, 2019
WHEELING, W.Va. – West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) in Wheeling is offering patrons a unique way to deliver a special Valentine’s Day gift this year. Visit the Hall beginning Jan. 22, 2019 through Feb. 14, 2019 and rent a post office box for $10. With that amount, the recipient will get a Victorian Valentine and a small box of Russell Stover’s chocolates.
Any additional item(s) can be added to your rental box as long as the items are within the post office box size of 4.5”H x 3” W x 6” deep. The box renter will receive a gift tag for the purchased Valentine with the recipient’s name and box number on it. The recipient will take the gift tag into Independence Hall’s restored post office, find the coordinating box, then go to the call window and pick up the Valentine’s Day gift. All Valentines and items must be picked up no later than March 1, 2019.
On the evening of March 21, 1859, gaslights lit the brand new Custom House in Wheeling, Virginia. Patrons would enter the original post office at the Custom House through the front vestibule. The rows of post office boxes were numbered but did not open. There was no mail delivery and no pick-up receptacles outside of the Custom House. Citizens received their mail through rented mailboxes, where box renters would look to see if they had mail. If they did, they then went to the call window to ask the postal clerk to retrieve it. For those who did not rent a box, the Intelligencer newspaper printed lists two times a month of people who had mail at the post office. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed the commission to Archibald W. Campbell to become the new Wheeling Postmaster. Receivers and senders paid two cents to rent a post office box.
This event is sponsored by the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, and all proceeds will go to the foundation, which in cooperation with the state of West Virginia, preserves, restores and maintains the site of the state’s birthplace and provides a stable, permanent and secure archival environment for permanent exhibits reflecting the history of the state.
For more information about WVIH, contact Debbie Jones, site manager, at (304) 238-1300 or Deborah.J.Jones@wv.gov.