- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Despite having opened in a time when Charles County was more rural and less suburban, the Ironsides Post Office, a small slice of local history, faces an uncertain future.
The post office first opened its doors in the small town in 1897, and closed its doors Saturday. Postmaster Cynthia Pierce is set to retire, and Patrick Murphy, the district communications coordinator for the Northern Virginia region of the United States Postal Service, said the postal operations in Ironsides will be suspended until another location can be found, as the lease for the current one was not renewed.
In May, the USPS released a plan to help keep rural post offices open despite the billions of dollars the postal service loses each year. The plan included cutting back hours of operation for smaller post offices. For Ironsides, which was on the list of affected locations, the hours of operation were not to be reduced, since it did not provide carrier service and only operated for two hours daily.
Murphy characterized Ironside’s closure as an “emergency suspension” which he said is the result of leaseholders for offices choosing not to renew.
Murphy said it was not immediately clear when postal service would resume directly in Ironsides.
“In a rural area where there’s not a lot of business, it’s often hard to find alternate locations,” Murphy said. “I do know we are currently looking into a different place to operate from.”
Ironsides postmaster Cynthia Pierce said she has operated the small office from the basement of her home for over 30 years.
“When it first opened here, this area was a lot different,” Pierce said. “We had a lot of farmers at first, and we still do, but many of them have passed on now. It was great [operating the post office] ... I was active in the community, and I was close to home. It really worked out well.”
Pierce said the small post office served as a meeting place for the equally small town, which also led her to interesting interactions with the town’s residents.
“When one of my sons was younger, we got him a dirt bike and he would ride it up and down the road our house sat on,” Pierce said. “Well, one day he got hit by a car. He was fine, and because he was fine he didn’t tell my husband or me what happened. I didn’t find out about it until the next day when one of the farmer’s wives came in and was telling me she thought she saw my boy get hit by a car. ... It took a village to raise a child down here, like they say, and well, all my boys turned out fine so I guess we did a good job.”
Pierce, who is originally from Illinois, moved to the small town with her husband after they got married. Since then, she has grown attached to the area.
“It’s really been neat, doing this,” Pierce said. “We’ve done almost all the things the bigger post offices do. I think what people are most afraid of is losing the ZIP code ... because they say when a town loses its ZIP code, that’s when it begins to lose its identity. We’re not Indian Head, and we’re not La Plata. We’re our own entity.”
For now, Ironsides residents can receive their mail from the Welcome post office. Although Pierce is looking forward to retirement, she will miss her days as postmaster.
“It’s just a little community and it’s nice to live and work here, because it’s so close knit,” Pierce said. “I will absolutely miss my customers. This is where everyone saw everyone.”
Where to pick up mail
The Welcome Post Office is located at 6204 Welcome Road. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The post office is closed on Sundays.