"One-and-one quarter miles south-southwest of the Dodge City post office there was 29 one-hundredths inches of rainfall." This is often what Dodge City citizens hear when they turn on their NOAA all hazards radio after a good rain.

Ever wonder why the National Weather Service uses the post office, and not the airport, as a reference point for rainfall in and around Dodge City?

The reason why is the weather service took observations at the current Dodge City Post Office’s location from 1909 to 1942.

By looking at, it is hard to believe this building was once our post office. Today it is just another one of the retail buildings in downtown Dodge City.

The first building on the site, an opera house, sat on the east side of North Second Avenue between Spruce and Walnut (Gunsmoke) Avenues. Built 1887, a skating rink later occupied the site. By 1895, the building had been converted to a meeting hall.

Around 1916, the structure was razed in preparation for a new Dodge City US Postal Service location. A real estate company awarded a contract to J.N. Parham to construct this building. Dodge City’s fifth post office opened in October 1916 on the south end of the opera house site, with the Dodge City Daily Globe printing plant and offices placed on its north between 1918 and 1926. By 1918, a drug store was also housed with the post office.

After the US Postal Service moved to their current location in 1931, William W. Virtue. purchased the building. Virtue, a businessman, had formerly worked for the C.R. Anthony chain of stores.

Virtue was born on June 29, 1883 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. In his middle ages, he remodeled the old post office "into a modern business building" which opened as the W.W. Virtue Dry Goods Co. In the 1950s Virtue’s moved a few doors away into the Hiram T. Burr Building on Spruce. Virtue’s has been out of business for some time.

W.W. Virtue died on April 10, 1972 at the age of 88 and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.

A number of retailers have occupied both the Virtue and old Dodge City Globe buildings over the decades. Today they house the Ensueno Boutique.

 

Kathie Bell is the curator of collections and education at Boot Hill Museum.