By Carol Vaughn —
The Pungoteague post office will remain in the small building that has housed it for decades, after its purchaser at an auction sale April 9 said he intends to keep its use as a post office.
There were 20 registered bidders at the auction, held on site, according to auctioneer Zeb Barfield.
The purchase price was $107,060, Barfield said.
The purchaser is the same person who purchased the Village General Store, across the street, in 2021. Barry Belle is from Pungoteague and is a 1979 graduate of Central High School in Painter. “My plan is to negotiate an agreement with the post office and keep the post office,” Belle said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Belle said when he purchased the general store that he owns a convenience store, a laundromat, two self-storage facilities, and a home health care business in Maryland.
“Being from the Eastern Shore of Virgnia, I have a strong desire to bring my success in business bac to my home town that I have always held dear to my heart,” he said then.
Plans to open the store are progressing, he said Thursday.
The value of the land and building was assessed in 2022 at $22,500.
The property was sold in 2006 by Mary Frances Drummond and several other owners for $37,800, according to county records.
The building was built by Roy Drummond around 1960, according to longtime residents. It is around 300 to 400 square feet and has a bathroom and shallow well, according to Barfield. The hardwood floor in the customer area was recently refinished.
According to a list of Virginia postmasters and post offices between 1789 and 1832, compiled and transcribed by Edith F. Axelson and housed in the Eastern Shore Room of the Eastern Shore Public Library in Accomac, Pungoteague post office was established in February 1816, with Abel R. Rogers as the first postmaster.
Alan Patera in a February 1981 article, “Post Offices of Virginia: Accomack County,” also found in the Eastern Shore Room, lists 96 post offices as having been in operation in the county at some period, or 118 if name changes are taken into account.
Patera listed the Pungoteague post office as having been established Feb. 29, 1816, discontinued Oct. 20, 1862, and re-established Aug. 18, 1863.
Scott Walker Jr., of Nassawadox, in a 1993 listing of Accomack County post offices, also found in the Eastern Shore Room, said Pungoteague “has one of the oldest continuous post offices on the Eastern Shore, giving testimony to its early importance as a transshipment point for waterborne mail and commerce.”
According to his account, the post office was renamed Bobtown post office in October 1862 and was renamed Pungoteague in August 1863.