Olive Through the Ages

Community: Olive Station U.S. Post Office

Churches | Fire dept. | Post office | Railroad | School & Civic Center | Other

In 2009, Olive Station U.S. Post Office, included on the list of post offices across the country slated for possible closure, remains open today in 2010, having been retained by the U.S. Postal Service. Next to Olive's public school, this historic post office is the second oldest public serving organization from its past; a significant remnant of this once-flourishing town.

My thanks to Gordon McClelland for contributing some of the resources used in writing this article.


A post office on the move

During the first half of the 1800s, the site that would become known as Olive was a sleepy, informal, pastoral area carrying forth the familial atmosphere established by its founding family. As such, there was little need for governmental intervention in the daily lives of its residents, since the Yorbas and their extended families took care of their own needs.

By 1871, a few years after the Yorba land grant was declared void, life for residents began to change as the region that would become known as Orange County was becoming settled. Desiderio Burruel, son-in-law of Teodocio Yorba—José Antonio Yorba's youngest son—set up an unofficial post office in his general store at Burruel Point, the name for the Olive area at the time. Local historian Tom Pulley writes in the May 2010 edition of "County Courier": "[Burruel] sold stamps [at his store] and picked up the mail for local residents from the Anaheim P.O. as well as delivered their outgoing mail to the post office."

A more official post office for Olive was established about 1884 or 1885 according to Charles S. Knowlton's pamphlet "Post Offices of Orange County, California, Past and Present," compiled from information in public libraries and from living sources. Don Meadows' book Historic Place Names in Orange County sets the opening date of the official U.S. post office named "Olive" on February 2, 1887, four months before Olive Heights tract was established.

An article published in the March 7, 1887 edition of Los Angeles Times states: "Our friends at Burrel [sic] Point are to be congratulated on their new postoffice. It is called Olive, and L.Z. Huntington is P.M. [post master]. Burrel [sic] Point is soon to attain the dignity of a lively town, and will be quite an important station on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. It is a beautiful place, commanding an entrancing view of the valley and ocean, and land in and around it is proving A No. 1. The people up that way are wide-awake, and will 'keep pace with the procession.'"

From 1887 up until the late 1890s, the post office was located inside the Bush general store near the Olive Mill (see image from 1890). In the 1910s up until the early 1920s, the U.S. Post Office building stood on the south side of Hope Street (present day Lincoln Avenue) at 4 east Olive Boulevard (present day Olive Avenue).

By the mid-1920s, the post office was housed in the brick building at the northeastern corner of Railroad Street (later called Canyon Way, and Orange-Olive Road today) and Hope Street (later called Santiago, and Lincoln Avenue today). The post office remained here until the brick building burned down in 1961, at which time it temporarily relocated across the street to the vacant Santa Fe depot structure near the northeastern corner of Lincoln and Orange-Olive Road, the Santa Fe agency having closed in 1960.

When the Santa Fe depot was razed in 1964 due to the realignment of Orange-Olive Road, the Olive Station post office moved to 2683 N. Orange-Olive Road in the strip mall at the Orange-Olive Center and became a station of the Orange post office.

In 2009 the U.S. Postal Service listed the Olive Station post office for possible closure, but in early 2010 the decision was made to keep this post office open.

Olive had a number of postmasters throughout its history. Among them:

1890 - 1891 James P. Small, who worked at the Olive Milling Co. from at least 1889 to October 1894
1891 - 1892 Albert K. Small
1892 - Feb. 1895 Warren D. Small
1899 - 1900 F.P. Upman
1913 - 1919 A.M. Lorenzen
1924 - 1928 Leonard G. Holman
1929 - 1931 Miss Myrtle Stinchfield (became Mrs. Myrtle V. Tackett in 1930)
1932 Marian A. Cole
1933 - 1945 Theo H. Mieger
1947 - 1963 Mrs. Ella A. Dominguez

Sources include: Orange County Place Names A to Z by Phil Brigandi, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, 2006; Thurston's Business and Resident Directory: Anaheim, Orange, Fullerton (1913-14); Directory of the City of Orange and Adjacent Territory (July 1916); Hansen's Orange Residence and Business City Directory (1919); Orange County Directory (1924-32); Barbara Oldewage's memories of Olive; "After 106 years, Olive closes door on history of Orange and its citizens," by Mary-Ann Unland, Orange City News, June 20, 1984; "The Busy Story of Olive in Orange County" by Clyde Leech, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, June 28, 1963; The Olive Mill: Orange County's Pioneer Industry by Wayne Dell Gibson, Orange County Historical Society, Santa Ana, CA, 1975.


Olive Station post office images

Click/tap the thumbnail images below to view larger images in a separate browser window or tab:

Olive Mill, Bush store, Hotel, 1890

This photo from 1890 shows the Bush general store in which Olive's post office was housed in its early years.

brick building, circa 1925

This image from circa 1925 shows the brick building on Canyon Way (Orange-Olive) where the post office resided.
brick building, 1951
The post office, shown in this 1951 photo, remained in this brick building until it was gutted by fire in 1961.
brick building, 1961 "U.S. Post Office, Olive, Calif." still appears on the face of this brick building after a fire in 1961.
Santa Fe depot, 1961
This 1961 photo shows the Santa Fe depot that would house the U.S. Post Office from 1961 to 1963.

Olive post office in old Santa Fe depot, 1963 This photo from 1963 shows postmaster Ella Dominguez beside the post office that occupied the former Santa Fe depot.
Orange-Olive Center, 2009
This 2009 photo shows the post office at its current location in the Orange-Olive Center where it has been since 1964.
Olive Station post office, 2009 This 2009 photo shows a close up of the Olive Station post office which has been a part of the Orange station since 1964.
Olive Station post office sign, 2009
This 2009 photo shows the sign on the window at the Olive Station post office at the Orange-Olive Center.

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