By Morgan Cook
Leicester – On Monday, January 11, 1954, at around 3 am, the Leicester Post Office and adjoining garage caught on fire.
According to details about the fire found at the Leicester Public Library as reported by the then Asheville Times newspaper, Inspector Harwood Hall was investigating the case. A nearby home had seen a suspicious black car parked outside of the office early in the morning not long before the fire. Mrs. W. C. Mears, who lived near the post office, told reporters that she had seen a light in the post office after midnight and a man walked out with a package, got into his car and drove away.
This led the inspector to believe that there might have been a fire as a result of the possible burglary either by accident or to cover the crime up. Around 3 am the fire started in the wooden post office and then it spread to the adjoining garage.
There was a missing stamp cabinet that showed up on January 14, 1954, near Pearson Bridge. Besides the stamp cabinet, there was no real money loss or stamp loss. The postmistress, Mrs, Marion H. Current, however, did lose considerable personal property.
The garage was owned by the Junior Order of United American Mechanics and Mrs. Current owned the post office. The office was valued at $4,000, the garage at $15,000 and the contents at $5,000. Unfortunately, neither of the buildings was insured.
The fire was put out by Engine Company No.7 from the West Asheville Station and by the Enka Fire Department. They put most of their effort into making sure the fire did not spread any further. The fire was so hot that it blistered paint of structures on the other side of the highway.
The post office and garage had at one point housed a mercantile business. The second story of the garage had once housed the Leicester Masonic Hall. The only thing left standing after the fire were the 100-year-old brick walls of the garage.
After the fire, the post office immediately used the basement of the Asheville Post Office to continue to send out mail. They then set up a temporary shop in the old Leicester Bank.
Editor’s note: Photos of photographs taken by Morgan Cook are believed to be ones made by Asheville Times and the Leader claims no rights to the original photos only to the images taken by Cook.