Aripeka Historic Post Office
Aripeka is located on the west coast of Floirda and is just north of Tampa. The town is know if its access to phenomenal fishing and its small, close community of locals. The town has many historical feature such as Norfleet's General Store, the Aripeka Library, and of course the historic Aripeka Post Office.
Backstory and Context
The town of Aripeka is located at the coast of the Gulf of Mexico at the Pasco and Hernando county line in Florida and is known for its exceptional fishing opportunities. Oddly enough, the town is divided in half by the county lines which is unique aspect of this town. The town has many historical sites, such as this post office. Based on the Pasco County Historic marker, the town gets its name from the “Aripeka Saw Mills Corporation” which adopted the name from a 19th century Seminole Indian leader. The town of Aripeka is a close community which fights to protect historic sites in the town such as the library, Norfleet’s Fish Camp and of course, the post office. The current post office is located at 18925 Aripeka Rd Hudson, Florida 34667, and on this site is the historic post office that operated between 1952-1962 according to a sign onsite.
Aripeka was originally named Gulf Key and was settled in 1873 (Aripeka). According to the article “Aripeka”, the first post office opened in Gulf Key on October 9th, 1889. The Gulf Key Post Office was later renamed to “Argo” which eventually changed names back to “Gulf Key Post Office”, which was shut down on January 6th, 1896 for good. Meanwhile on February 11th, 1895, the Aripeka post office was established. The following quote, “The first postmaster was George Pine, a photographer born in New Jersey in 1835. The first post office was on the Hernando County side, and in the early days the northern part of the town was called Aripeka and the southern part of the town was called Hammock Creek” describes the early split of the town due to the county lines. According to a Pasco County historical marker onsite, the Aripeka post office was moved across Hammock Creek and over into Pasco County in 1921. Then in 1962, a new post office was built (and expanded in 1983) according to the online article “Aripeka".
In more recent years, the new post office that is still functioning today, was almost shut down due to lease agreements between the Postal Service and the landowner in 2018. Current Pasco side residents do not receive home mail delivery unlike the Hernando side. The Postal Service announced closure in 2018 when the lessor denied a cumbersome lease proposal. Carl Norfleet, whose family has the local store named after them, purchased the property and came to an agreement with the Postal Service. Norfleet wanted to give back to his town, however, for the last five years Norfleet and the Postal Service have butted heads (Evans). According to the article, Norfleet offered to sell the building outright for $50,000 because he has no interest in working with them. Local residents created a petition to save the post office, or at least receive home mail delivery.
Another form of community engagement for the town if Aripeka is preserving the historic library in Aripeka. The article “Volunteers work to Preserve History at Aripeka Library” that was published in 2019 describes the communal impact the town has on the people. Resident Rene Bennett visited the library when she first moved there and fell in love (Wronka). She became the head librarian and keeps up on the books and increasing activities as she feels it’s something worth it for the community (Wronka). The article also discusses Louis Charity, who is the one preserving the history at the library. The article states that Charity’s wife, Mary, had generations of family in Aripeka, and he states that he thinks he’s doing it for the memory of her because she loved the town so much.
The town of Aripeka residents have had a close community since its beginning and now holds to preserving the towns history such as the library, Norfleet’s Fish Camps, and of course the Post Office. The towns history for just over a century has had some interesting stories involving the post offices in the town alone, and as discussed is still a hot item in today’s times as postal services are key aspects to citizens’ lives.
“Aripeka.” History of Pasco County 16 Feb. 2020, fivay.org/aripeka.html.
Evans, Jack. “What's a Town without a Post Office? Tiny Aripeka Might Be There Again Soon.” Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Times, 22 Aug. 2019, www.tampabay.com/What-s-a-town-without-a-post-office-Tiny-Aripeka-might-be-there-again-soon_171659633/.
Wronka, Tim. “Volunteers Work to Preserve History at Aripeka Library.” Spectrum News, 10 July 2019, www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2019/07/11/volunteers-work-preserve-history-at-aripeka-library