Remembrance of Objects Past

What kind of a one-legged butler would wait on you rain or shine and let you slam the door on him after he gives you all the news of the day?

Such is the fate of the mailbox. It’s rusty, its hinges creak and we hide it from everyone except for the mailman.


Once, I had the opportunity to pamper a mailbox and raise its fate to that of a jewelry box. The house was a tall and plain shingle house and the owners agreed to embark on the long arduous but satisfying route of a complete remodel. I added wood brackets, flared the shingles as they reached the house wood skirt and custom designed the exterior lights. The one car garage happily got its facelift as well. Then came the mailbox, not quite the star structure when dwarfed by the garage and the main house looming behind.

Often enough, custom mailboxes were simply miniature models of the houses they stood guard to. When one goes about shrinking and simplifying a house to the size of a mailbox, one gets a dollhouse that could be too cute for “an architectural statement”. To steer away from that tendency, I used the same vernacular of the main house on the mailbox and voila: a little mailbox that requires the attention of several talented craftsmen (thank you Dan Bennett, David Ryan and Les Williams) in its assemblage. It has shingles for roof, well-crafted beams and outriggers for rafters, a copper interior and an iron “gate” with art glass backing.

My mailbox now has curb appeal equal to that of the garage and the house. It deserves care when handled and always brings a smile to passersby and owners alike. Embodying the house architectural language and details all in one tiny swoop, the mailbox gets first take at welcoming homeowners home while tending to their paper connection to rest of the world . If one day, with the advance of the Internet, it becomes obsolete, it would still adorn its corner and retain its place as a thing that one can’t just let go.

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One thought on “Remembrance of Objects Past

  1. Carolyn, Just found your blog, and your entry on our lovely home in Piedmont brought tears to my eyes. Yes, the mailbox was a jewel, but then so was every detail at 221 Pacific! We will fondly remember our time spent with you and your team of experts……this truly was a home to be remembered. Miss those beautiful California sunsets…….Michelle

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