Charleston Postal Museum Showcases Post Office History

History aficionados will enjoy visiting the Postal Museum in Charleston, SC.

On a recent visit to Charleston, SC, I had the pleasure of stumbling onto the Postal Museum in the old Charleston Post Office on Broad Street.

Although it is small, the museum offers a wealth of information and some artifacts showcasing post office history, primarily in Charleston, but also for the post office as a whole within our country’s history.

The Postal Service in Charleston dates back to the 1600s with the city’s founding. The city was initially called Charles Town when it was founded in 1670, named after King Charles II. The name was changed to its current Charleston at the end of the Revolutionary War.

Mannequin inside of the Postal Museum in Charleston, SC displays a historic Postal uniform
Mannequin in historic attire on display inside of the Postal Museum in Charleston, SC (Photo by Ian Smith)

As information in the Postal Museum explains, the original post office in Charles Town was established within a few years after the colony was founded to maintain communication between the new colony and England. “Records show that the ships that left the young colony bore letters pleading for articles needed by the settlers, and carried back glowing accounts of the beauties of the locality and its wonderful potential future,” reads a document in the museum.

It notes that the Office of the Powder Receiver was established in 1694 to serve not only as the Postmaster for the colony by collecting and delivering mail, but also to collect a percentage of gunpowder that arrived on each ship.

“He [the Postmaster] was required to post these letters in a public room in his house for 30 days and received 3 pence and 3 farthings for each letter delivered,” reads the museum document.

Post Office Operations During the Civil War

Among the interesting facts I learned about at the museum was how the Post Office operated during the Civil War. After the war began, postal operations were suspended between the northern and southern states. The Confederate Post Office stopped accepting or redeeming stamps issued prior to secession, and the southern states issued their own stamps, some of which were on display in the museum.

In addition to the stamps, the Postal Museum has the text of a newspaper article from 1861 from the Charleston Daily Courier with the announcement about suspending postal operations with the United States.

Other Information About the Charleston Postal Museum

Bicycle that reads 'US Mail' on display inside of the Postal Museum in Charleston, SC
Mail delivery bicycle on display in the Postal Museum in Charleston, SC (Photo by Ian Smith)

Other interesting bits of information you will learn about in the museum include the history of the post office box (it dates back to at least 1800), a gun duel that killed the Charles Town Postmaster General in 1771, and the first mail carried by train from Charleston in 1831.

As I mentioned, the museum is very small. I spent 30-45 minutes there and was able to take in nearly all of it during that time. Despite its small size, it has a great deal of information, and if you like history, it’s well worth a visit.

The Postal Museum is located inside the Post Office at the corner of Broad and Meeting Streets at the southern end of the historic downtown area. There is no admission fee.

The Charleston Post Office building was built in 1896 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is the oldest continuously operated post office in the Carolinas.

Exterior of the Post Office building in Charleston, SC
Exterior of the Charleston, SC Post Office in historic downtown (Photo by Ian Smith)

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.