Iconic landmark headed for auction

ONE of the most well-known historic buildings in Dubbo is being offered for sale.

The former post office at 98 Macquarie Street has towered as a landmark in the central business district since 1887.

Regarded as a building of significance, it has maintained a steadfast presence for 125 years, providing a meeting place and community focal point in times of sadness and celebration.

Letters and telegrams brought good news and bad during war, flood, fire, drought and political and economic upheaval.

On September 12, 1966 the building was decorated with bunting when a huge crowd turned out to commemorate Dubbo's declaration as a city.

Throughout setbacks, growth and development the post office clock has faithfully rung out the hour.

Designed in Italianate style by colonial architect James Barnet, the post office included a mail sorting room, counter and lobby, dining room, kitchen, scullery, wash house, fuel shed, upstairs sitting room, bedrooms and servant's room.

The clock, housed in a tower, was originally a feature of the Dubbo court house. It was relocated when a new court house was built in classical style.

City records show the foundation stone for the post office was laid on September 18, 1885 by Mrs Raper, wife of the Dubbo postmaster.

Construction continued throughout 1886. The building was occupied on May 5, 1887.

The finished post office was described as "very fine" with "beautiful polished cedar features, tessellated pavement, burnished vane and massive doors".

The final cost was 8110 pounds, including furnishings.

In 1897 a telephone exchange opened in the building. Dubbo was among the first 10 country exchanges in NSW.

By 1909 more than 100 Dubbo subscribers were connected. The exchange was housed in a room beneath the clock tower.

The postmaster described the building as "very cramped for space".

In 1913 alterations were made to the building to accommodate the expanding telephone switchboard. A telephone trunk line was established in 1914.

During 1927 major renovations and extensions were carried out to the post office at a cost of 1376 pounds.

In 1968 a three-storey automatic telephone exchange was added to the rear of the building.

The Dubbo post office was allocated to Telecom Australia in 1975 after the Postmaster General's Department was abolished.

Australia Post continued to lease the building until 1982 when the post office relocated to Talbragar Street premises formerly occupied by Coles New World Supermarket.

Telecom spent almost $300,000 refurbishing the old post office building. Polished cedar was used extensively in display cabinets, partitions, desks and fittings.

The company, known as Telstra from 1995, continued to run its operations from the Macquarie Street premises.

In July 2010 the building became vacant when a "Telstra Shop" was established at the Orana Mall retail complex.

For lease signs went up but there were no takers for the old post office.

In April last year Telstra returned to Macquarie Street when a second retail outlet opened in the old HW Taylor building.

At the end of 2012 Telstra decided to sell the historic post office.

Andrew McDonald Commercial will auction 98 Macquarie Street in March.

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