The U.S. Postal service has closed a rural post office in Virginia located near Former President James Madison’s Montpelier estate because management was concerned over an exhibition highlighting its history of segregation, Axios reports. For more than 110 years, the Montpelier Station served customers but had separate facilities for Black and White Americans due to Jim Crow laws.
The Montpelier Foundation created an exhibit called “In the Time of Segregation” in 2010. This exhibit reinstalled signs over the once-segregated entrances — one labeled “White,” the other labeled “Colored.”
USPS closed the location in June because the signage was deemed unacceptable. There were fears that people would associate the entrances in the exhibit with “current operations of the Post Office and thereby draw negative associations between those operations and the painful legacy of discrimination and segregation.”
“Service at Montpelier Station was suspended after it was determined the display at the site was unacceptable to the Postal Service,” USPS spokesman Philip Bogenberger emailed the Culpeper Star-Exponent on Aug. 9.
“While we attempted to address the issue with the property owner, that effort was unsuccessful, and it was decided that the proper course of action was to suspend the facility and provide service to our customers from nearby postal retail units,” Bogenberger wrote in response to a query from the newspaper.
The USPS has stated they are looking for “suitable alternative quarters in the community” for the office. The post office has one employee, operates four hours daily, and serves about 100 customers.
The Montpelier Foundation said they were not notified of the decision beforehand. Communications director Christy Moriarty had let the Star Exponent know the exhibit and post office existed for years without pushback.
“Montpelier owns the Train Depot building, and the exhibition will remain open,” she said. “We call upon the USPS to reverse the decision and reopen this historic facility that has served this community for over a century.”
“We are proud of the exhibition that presents the realities of life during the Jim Crow era, showing the original segregated ticketing and waiting facilities,” Moriarty said.