Manteca’s Post Office on Maple Avenue was under construction 75 years ago.
The dawn of 2014 will also mark the 106th year of a post office being based in Manteca. Prior to 1908, Manteca was a rural route of the Lathrop post office. The only other post office in the area was at Atlanta on Lone Tree Road at Due Road east of present-day Manteca.
The Maple Avenue location is actually the sixth post office in Manteca.
The first five locations were:
•The Cowell & Wiggin General Store starting on July 22, 1908.
•The Wiggin Hotel directly across the street from the general store on Yosemite Avenue.
•The southwest corner of the IOOF building that now houses Manteca Bedquarters.
•The back of the old South San Joaquin Bank building on South Maple that up until a few years ago housed the Bank of the West.
• Rented space at the Old City Hall building on Sycamore Avenue.
Manteca’s first — and only – from the ground up post office was built at North Maple Avenue and Center Street. The Mediterranean-style building cost $80,000.
The dedication ceremonies attended by 1,000 people took place on March 25, 1939. Dignitaries speaking predicted the building would accommodate Manteca’s needs for a hundred years before any additions would-be needed.
The cornerstone put in place nearly 70 years ago included:
•an autographed photo of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
•an autographed photo of Postmaster General James A. Farley
•an autographed photo of Congressman Frank H. Buck.
•a miniature handmade bottle with a handmade label from the Schenley Distilleries Inc. of Manteca with instructions to present it to the president in office when the cornerstone is opened.
•45 un-cancelled United States Commemorative stamps from John A. Mendosa to be given to his most needy descendant.
•a copy of a 35-year-old edition of the Stockton Independent that was presented by E.E. Salmon.
•the Manteca Bulletin dated March 23, 1939.
•the complete enrollment of Manteca Grammar Schools signed by 420 students.
•the enrollment of the Manteca Luncheon club.
•a number of financial statements and rosters of various Manteca firms including Bank of Manteca, Manteca Canning Company, Kraft-Phoenix Cheese Co., South San Joaquin Irrigation District.
• an Air Mail Week film and a number of postal forms used in 1939.
Former Postmaster Joseph Wilson handled all of the paperwork needed for the government to acquire the site.
When Wilson passed away in August of 1939, the land just west of the post office was made into a memorial park and named in his honor.
The post office survived just over one generation — not 100 years — before expansion was necessary. In 1966, the post office moved into temporary quarters on North Main Street to add 7,000 square feet plus a 3,000-suqare-foot basement. The dedication in November of 1967 attracted 400 people.
There is now an annex post office on Industrial Park Drive that was opened to serve growth.
The only major crime ever to take place involving the postal service in Manteca was the blasting open of the post office safe with nitroglycerine when it was locate in the IOOF building. The blast took place at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, 1916. The city’s night watchman — Wright Oliver — got two shots off at the fleeing suspect but no one was ever arrested.
Ten dollars in change and a few stamps were stolen.