Cotesfield Post Office




The Howard County Historical Society is in the process of recreating an authentic turn-of-the-century main street. One key building in the recreated main street is the Cotesfield post office. The post office was one way the world entered the town and one way the town entered the world.

Cotesfield Post Office (closed for lunch)
©MM HCHS

The post office in Cotesfield closed on April 19, 1996, part of a national downsizing effort by the United States government. It served the Cotesfield area for nearly 125 years. The building, owned by Maxine and Joe Coufal of Cotesfield, was donated to the Howard County Historical Society for use in the Historical Village.

As we continue to research the Cotesfield post office, we find it has quite a history to it -- and an old one at that. According to Perkey's Nebraska Place Names, a post office was established in Cotesfield on December 1, 1871. In the four counties of Greeley, Howard, Sherman, and Valley, 98 different post offices were established. Of the 98, the Cotesfield location is the third oldest -- only St. Paul and Gage Valley were established earlier. This history alone is reason enough to save this building.

The current building that we moved and restored was built in 1920 by Jess Sautter. The building contains the original postmaster's counter, as well as a safe, a desk, and several other items. With the exception of the front, the building's exterior was in original condition. The building measures 15 feet wide by 22 feet deep. The front required restoration to bring it back to its 1925 glory. The inside needed hours of dedicated volunteers to restore it so we can display some of our valuable post office and government collections.

Fundraising:
Nearly $8,000 was raised in contributions and volunteer services. Committee: Marion Bahensky, Maxine Coufal and Ron Sack

Cotesfield Post Office in 1997, still under
restoration. - (Courtesy of Ron W. Sack)

Exterior restoration:
· Replaced rotted sills
· Formed new foundation
· Replaced deteriorated portions of siding
· Restored front to its original condition (siding, relocated door to center, two · windows)
· Recreated "Post Office, Cotesfield, Nebr." sign
· Added a screen door
· Added exterior lighting
· Created two quaint brick steps
· Scraped, primed, and painted the exterior
· Acquired screens for windows
· Minor reinforcement for existing siding
· Added green trim
· Repaired and restored flag pole
Guidelines provided from the National Trust For Historic Preservation were followed. (In every case above, material was used that was correct to the era of restoration.)

People donating time to preserve the exterior were: Bill and Jan Sack, Mike Markvicka, Andy Mostek, Marion Bahensky, Lutheran Brotherhood, Terry King, Roderick Burkhardt and Ron Sack.

Interior restoration:
· Replaced exterior and interior doors with ones from correct time period
· Primed and painted all interior walls and woodwork
· Sanded, stained, and varnished floors
· Removed suspended ceiling
· Removed carpet
· Removed linoleum
· Removed paneling
· Removed unnecessary wiring
· Replaced rotted interior wall
· Recreated trim around doors (2), windows (2), and mopboards
· Painted ceiling
· Found vintage light fixtures
· Found vintage wainscoting
· Replaced front threshold
· Replaced back threshold
· Minor plaster work to the chimney area
· Replaced formica counter top with wooden one
· Plastered minor holes
Guidelines provided from the National Trust For Historic Preservation were followed. (In every case above, material was used that was correct to the era of restoration.)

People donating time to preserve the interior were: Bill and Jan Sack, Diana Markvicka, Jeff and Russ Sack, Andy Mostek, Roderick Burkhardt, Roy Shiadek and Ron Sack.

Remaining work completed:

Move, accession, and label furniture and artifacts. Cleaning of the interior. People committed to make this happen: Roderick Burkhardt, Marion Bahensky, Diana Markvicka, Russ, Jeff, Jan and Ron Sack.

Part of our motivation in preserving these buildings is so we can give our community. especially our children. a "hands on" history lesson. Our second motivation comes from a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt on the Antiquities Act of 1906:

"Here is your country. Do not let anyone take it or its glory away from you. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its history, its architecture, or its romance. The world, the future, and your children shall judge you accordingly as you deal with this sacred trust."