This Post Office, located at the entrance to the Gabriels Sanatorium, burned in 1972. The Brighton Reporter, February 2007. The gate to the sanatorium was located to the right of the Post Office; it was removed in 1976, when Paul Smith's College owned the property. The Gabriels Post Office was initially established in 1898 in Gabriels, run by the Sisters of Mercy — undoubtedly for the benefit of their patients at Sanatorium Gabriels. In 1920 the post office moved to the sanatorium. In 1946 the Sisters of Mercy gave up the Post Office to Mr. Martin. After a burglary and fire destroyed the Post Office at the sanatorium (then owned by Paul Smith's College) in 1972, the Post Office was re-located, first to the home of Mrs. Rita Lancto, the postmaster, and then to a temporary mobile unit provided by the United States Post Office Department in the parking lot of the Catholic church. The post office that burned in 2007 was moved to the Tucker's property in 1976.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 23, 1965

Postmaster Retires After Long Service

Leonard E. L'Ecuyer, of Gabriels, has retired from the Post Office Department, following 4[0?] years of service. 1 Mr. L'Ecuyer entered the postal service at Keeseville and served under three postmasters in that village. He became assistant postmaster under the term of Harvey A. Boisseau.

In 1928, due to ill health, he entered Gabriels Sanatorium. In 1930 he became a postal clerk at Gabriels, under Sister M. Mercy McCue who was postmaster because the office was then under the supervision of the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1930 he has served continually at the Gabriels Post Office.

Mr. and Mrs. L 'Ecuyer expect to reside in Carthage.


From an unidentified clipping in the Adirondack Collection, Saranac Lake Free Library, dated c. 1971 (Caption for a Gilbert Photo of the Post Office)

GUTTED POST OFFICE

The Post Office in Gabriels now stands gutted as State Police search for robbers whom they believe looted the safe of some $2,500 in cash and stamps. John Campion, Post Master in Saranac Lake, today issued a statement saying the serial numbers on the Postal Money Orders were available at the post office and cautioned that merchants should check with the post office before honoring money orders.

 

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 27, 1972

Gabriels Post Office burned; $2,500 looted

GABRIELS — The Post Office was gutted by fire early Sunday morning, and afterward it was discovered that the safe had been "peeled" and robbed of $2500 in stamps and an undetermined amount of cash. BCI Investigator R.H. Garrand said he is assuming the possibility of arson to cover up the theft.

The fire was noticed about 8:15 a.m. by Mike Peer of Saranac Lake who was returning from Malone. He told Bloomingdale firemen that the fire was well underway at that time. Peer drove to the home of Robert Tummons which is about a mile from the post office but one of the closest residences, and called the fire department. By this time it was about 3:30 and the building was completely engulfed when the firemen arrived.

Paul Smith's College Fire Department also was called and arrived on the scene shortly before the two Bloomingdale trucks.

Twenty-four Bloomingdale firemen answered the call. They used 600 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose to pump water from the reservoir at the college buildings behind the post office. The reservoir and college buildings were formerly Gabriels Sanatorium property.

The Saranac Lake Fire Department stood by at Bloomingdale until the trucks returned to the fire house around 6 o'clock. A few firemen remained in Gabriels until the fire was declared officially out at 8 o'clock.

Fire Chief Thomas Glover said today that he noticed that the safe was open and called State Police. In addition it is mandatory to notify the State Police when there is a fire at United States government property.

"Peeling, one of the firemen explained, is removing the outer cover of the safe door and then using a torch to get at the contents." Investigator Gerrard said that Mrs. Rita Lancto, the postmaster, will use her home as a post office until a temporary mobile unit can be provided by the united states Post Office Department. Only the four brick walls of the former post office are standing today.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 30, 2007

Fire consumes post office

Blaze also cuts Time Warner Internet cable line for Tri-Lakes

By JACOB RESNECK

Enterprise Staff Writer

GABRIELS — An early morning conflagration consumed the Gabriels post office and attached three-bedroom residence early this morning.

A neighbor across the street said she awoke at 4 a.m. and remembered seeing nothing amiss. But a little after 6 a.m. she could see an orange glow coming from the green building across the street.

"I looked out the window and said, 'Oh my God!' — it was fully engulfed in flames," recalled Mary Ellen Salls, 72, who has lived there for more than 40 years. Her husband, Jerry, 69, also witnessed the fire.

The blaze reached overhead wires along the highway, bringing down a power line as well as cable connections. A National Grid crew was on scene assessing the damage.

"There was a power line down between the fire and the road, so until NiMo got there, they couldn't get to that side," said Jerry Salls as he stood on his porch watching firefighters work in subzero temperatures.

Damage to the overhead wires has left the Tri-Lakes area without cable Internet. The fire damaged the main line that originates in Potsdam, a Time Warner a spokeswoman said. She did not know when it would be repaired.

Dispatchers in Saranac Lake received a call at 6:06 a.m. and paged the Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters from Paul Smiths-Gabriels, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Bloomingdale and Tupper Lake responded with mutual aid. More than 20 firefighters fought the fire in the early dawn twilight as the sun rose from a pink and orange horizon.

The house was rented to a young couple with a small child, and everyone was evacuated safely, said Paul Smiths-Gabriels Fire Chief Tom Tucker.

The building's owner, Mark Tucker, whose late wife, Rita, was the postmistress from the 1950s up until her retirement in 1984, said the structure was built in the late 19th century.

"When we remodeled, we found newspapers in the wall dating from about 1890," the 78-year-old Gabriels native said from his winter home in Florida. "There was also once a barroom in there, but of course, back then many houses had barrooms."

The elder Tucker said the post office was moved to his property after an arson fire destroyed its predecessor. That post office, housed in a stately brick, building that was on the property or what's now Camp Gabriels state prison, had been robbed and set on fire in the mid-1970s, he recalled.

After that fire, the people of Gabriels got their mail from a trailer in the parking lot of the Catholic church until the present post office was moved to the Tucker's property in 1976.

U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Marion, in Syracuse, said the approximately 200 box holders in Gabriels will be able to get their mail at the post office in Vermontville.

Mark Tucker's 30-year-old granddaughter, Michelle Shanty, said the building has been in the family for quite a long time; she had the unfortunate job of breaking the news to her grandfather in Florida.

"My mom grew up in that house," Shanty said. "And when I was born, I grew up in that house."


The Brighton Reporter, February 2007

The Gabriels Post Office Fire: Fighting Back

On January 30 the Post Office in Gabriels burned to the ground. The fire was discovered by a person who stopped to put mail in the outside box. He awakened the family of three living in the house and then ran across the street to another house to find a phone and report the fire. Another person who was driving by gave the family a ride to another house. The temperature was about 28 degrees below zero.

Extensive media coverage was given to the fire by regional radio and television stations and newspapers.

This is the second time the Gabriels Post Office has burned. The original post office, opened in 1896 near where Camp Gabriels is now located, also burned.

After the fire, although initially Gabriels postal patrons were directed to Vermontville for interim mail service, as of February 12 their service was relocated to the Paul Smiths Post Office.

Many citizens have signed petitions and sent letters to government officials and postal authorities urging that the Gabriels Post Office be replaced as soon as possible and not abandoned.

At the February town board meeting council member Steve Tucker reported that his uncle Mark Tucker, who owns the land where the destroyed building, would like to rebuild just a building for the Post Office. It is generally believed that the USPS prefers to lease rather than own property.

The town board sent a letter to Tim Healy, the USPS District Manager in Albany, making a case for replacement of the Gabriels Post Office. The key arguments are:

1) In a rural area such as Gabriels, in addition to a place for postal business the post office serves as a social hub for the community;

2) Many of the patrons of the Gabriels Post Office, especially seniors, are accustomed to walking to the post office and are therefore dependent on its close proximity. There is no rural delivery in the area.

3) The shift to the Paul Smiths Post Office is a good interim solution to the problem but not a good long-term solution. Besides being several miles distant from Gabriels, the increased traffic on the campus, where students frequently are walking on the road, poses an undesirable increase in the risk of an accident.

4) Many businesses and residents in the Gabriels area have offered to help house a replacement for the Gabriels Post Office.

Copies of the letter were sent to State Senator Betty Little, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman John M. McHugh, Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, and Franklin County legislators Ray Susice, Tim Burpoe and Gordy Crossman.

In addition, U.S. Senator Clinton has sent a letter to John E. Potter, USPS Postmaster General, asking that the Gabriels post office be replaced as soon as possible.

Numerous contributions of food, clothing, furnishings and money have been made to the Hadynski family, who lost their home in the fire.

A benefit dinner for the Hadynskis is being hosted by Samson's Bar & Grill (former Meacham Lake Inn, corner of Rt. 30 & 458) on Tuesday, February 27 from noon to 7 p.m. The dinner will be an all-you-can-eat spaghetti buffet, with vegetarian sauce or meatballs, bread, salad, drink, and dessert.

Donations are: Adult (12+) $10 Child (5-11) and Seniors $6 Children 4 and under, free

Live music will be provided by Dave Hall, playing guitar and keyboard, and Jon Curtis, playing saxophone. Dave and Jon will be playing 60s-70s classics.


See Brighton Curing Timeline.


Draft list, from articles above, of Postmasters:

  • Sister M. Mercy McCue, Postmaster
  • Leonard E. L'Ecuyer, Postal Clerk & Postmaster, 1930-1965
  • Mr. Martin, 1946
  • Mrs. Rita Lancto, Postmaster in 1972.
  • Mark Tucker, whose late wife, Rita, was the postmistress from the 1950s up until her retirement in 1984. Was Rita Lancto also Mark Tucker's wife?

Comments

Footnotes

1. The news clipping shows an extra space after the "4." Since Mr. L'Ecuyer worked at the Gabriels Post Office for 35 years, and an unknown period in Keeseville, it would appear that a digit is missing after the "4."