- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
With a big boost from the federal government, East Hartford officials expect to buy and renovate the historic Main Street post office as an addition to the public library next door.
U.S. Rep. John Larson announced recently that $600,000 to purchase the building at 850 Main St. was included in a House appropriations bill. Town council Chairman Rich Kehoe said he is fairly confident Congress will approve the funding within the next two months.
Built in the 1930s, the 16,541-square-foot building would house additional library services and programs, although no detailed plans have been made. Library Director Sarah Morgan said town officials “look forward to working with residents and community partners to develop a plan for the projects.”
The U.S. Postal Service announced last year that the Main Street office, which remains open, would be closed and the building sold, but no timeline was given. The planned closure, postal officials said, was due to automation, declining mail volume and other factors that shrank required space to 1,344 square feet.
Postal Service spokeswoman Amy Gibbs said Tuesday, “The building is still for sale and retail operations will continue there until further notice.”
The building and .71-acre lot (which the town assessor lists at 846 Main St.) is assessed at $628,370. The town’s other post office is at 888 Silver Lane.
“Preservation of this historic property and the potential of connecting it to our recently renovated library will expand this critical institution to provide our community access to ideas, information, technology and a variety of educational, cultural, recreational, and intellectual resources,” Mayor Marcia Leclerc said.
Renovations and a 14,000-square-foot addition to the Raymond Library were completed in 2015. The $9.5 million project included a new Creative Commons space with 3D printers, an expanded teen space and a large children’s section.
Among ideas for the post office addition are a coffee shop to help draw more people to the library and a permanent office for Literacy Volunteers of America, Kehoe said. The overall goal, he said, “is to make the library more visible to the public and create additional reasons for residents to utilize library services.”
A rough estimate for renovation costs is $1 million, he said. The Postal Service requires that any new owner maintains the historic value of the building, Kehoe said, which is no problem as he and other officials view the post office building as a historic asset, complementing other civic and private buildings and houses on Main Street and Central Avenue.
Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at email@example.com