Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Village of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts

To the Postal Service - We invite you to come any time and take a tour. You'll see why our Post Office is worth keeping!

Our Campaign
The founder of our Ad Hoc Committee, John Anderson, put together a complete book of documents from our campaign (over 100 pages). You are welcome to look at it anytime at our Post Office. 

Some of it (including letters from our Governor, Members of Congress and the Montague Board of Selectmen) may be found at the end of this article.

This building is 99 years old-1 year short of being "historic."

Who Are We?

166 residents
     26 children under 16
    32 residents over 65

Our village is like a land-locked island, surrounded on 3 sides by state forest and our lake.  Most of us live within 1/4 mile of the post office.

We claim the honor of having the lowest per capita income of any village in Massachusetts.  

We aren't sure if that extends to the entire country.  However, we provide living proof that money isn't everything!

Our "Bridge of Names" where the sides are made of slats with names carved in them. Slats are still
being made with a name of your choice for $20.  The bridge was financed by the sale of these slats.

Our lake is now a municipal water supply, so it is unavailable for swimming or boating.

Reasons to Keep Our Post Office Open


Note:  All of the combined small and rural Post Offices amounts to less than 0.7% of the Postal Service's budget!

Also, the post office is laboring under false pretenses with regard to the cost of our post office:

David James
  1.  Our only postal employee (for the last 4 years) is a relief worker who makes $10.50/hour for the 36 hours we are open.  He has no benefits, so his annual salary amounts to less than $19,000.  (The Postal Service estimates our labor costs at over $40,000.)

  2.  In the figures released (our Proposal to Close), there is no mention of replacement costs.  It is as if our mail will suddenly cease to exist!

We have done an accurate assessment of the costs of keeping our Post Office vs the costs of closing it and delivering our mail other ways.  


This would cost the Postal Service less than installing cluster boxes or moving our P.O. boxes to Montague Center (Rural Route Delivery has apparently been deemed unfeasable).  Both "solutions" will not work for this community:

1.  Cluster Boxes
Because we are isolated, with no visible police presence, there is a history of vandalism here from outsiders.  We believe that cluster boxes would not survive for long.  Since they are expensive to install, they would be expensive to re-install.

2.  Moving our boxes to Montague Center
The cost of setting up 81 new boxes in another post office would be exorbitant.  The cost of driving there is beyond the abilities of this population.  This post office is 2.4 miles from where we live and we estimate that it will cost us over $600/year if we have to do this.

No shoulder on Rt. 63

Keeping our post office is the "greenest" option available.  Most of us walk there.  

If we have to go to another town, we will be burning fossil fuels for no justifiable reason.  The road to that town has no shoulder to either ride a bicycle on or to walk on.


85% of the 81 post office box holders want to keep the Post Office open with reduced hours.  

Even though it would be inconvenient to have our mail boxes available only 18 hours per week, almost all of us would prefer that to any other option.  

It is not an exaggeration to say that our Post Office is the heart of our community and we love it.


This is a village with a fascinating history.  In the 1800's, it was a Spiritualist center with so many residents, the train from Boston stopped here 3 times a day!

David James, our local historian and our current postal worker, together with the late Louise Shattuck, wrote a wonderful book about the history of Lake Pleasant:

The following history comes from the Town of Montague website:

The village of Lake Pleasant is a tightly knit grouping of small cottages located on the shore of Lake Pleasant, which is currently part of the town’s water supply. The village developed in the late 19th century as a resort community that was the site of political and temperance conventions, parties, outings and mammoth 4th of July celebrations. It was perhaps best known, however, as the meeting place for the New England Spiritualists Camp Meeting Association. In 1874, Henry Buddington and Joseph Beals organized the spiritualist group, which met annually at the lake well into the 20th century. Initially accommodating 75 tent lots, the village expanded within five years to 90 small cottages, and the fifty acres surrounding the lake were divided into many more camping lots. At its peak, which occurred at the turn of the century, Lake Pleasant had grown to 196 homes and cottages.

For a quarter of a century, Lake Pleasant enjoyed the status of a popular resort community. As many as two thousand people visited the area in August. Some came to practice their religion. These were the years when mediums from all over the country and foreign nations flocked to Lake Pleasant to set up summer, if not year round residence. Others, including many locals, came to enjoy the many recreational and other attractions, including steamboat excursions on the lake, or the celebrations and dances of the Independent Order of Scalpers, a fraternal organization whose festivities reflected Native American customs and folklore. Many local residents made their way to Lake Pleasant on the new trolley, which transported visitors from neighboring Greenfield and a booming Turners Falls. A hotel, opened in 1881 to accommodate the increased flow of visitors requiring overnight accommodations. The hotel offered entertainment by the 20 piece Fitchburg Band.

Two events appear to have contributed to the decline of Lake Pleasant as a major tourist attraction: a major fire and the development of the lake as a public water supply. The fire, which occurred in 1907, destroyed 130 homes; and although valiant efforts were made to rebuild, the Village never achieved its pre-fire glory. The development of Lake Pleasant as a public water supply effectively ended its recreational role, and influenced the later growth of the village. As property values declined, many buildings around the lake were acquired by the water department and demolished for watershed protection purposes.

Today, the roots of Lake Pleasant as a late Victorian camp community are apparent in both the density of housing and architecture. Many of the homes at Lake Pleasant reflect the glory of an earlier day when the tent community expanded to cottages on what were, essentially, tent sized lots. The 19th century development pattern is reflected in the Victorian style architecture with ginger bread detailing, not unlike that present in the community of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. The small lots and narrow, winding roadways give the village a charm and character that is very different from Montague’s other four villages.

Our Position

Letter From Our Governor

Support From Our Congressmen and Our Board of Selectmen

Excerpts From Our Campaign Packet

Flyer designed by Lahri Bond of the Ad Hoc Committee:

Letters to the Editor of The Recorder

We welcome any and all comments ...