For 134 years the modest cedar-shingled post office of Cuttyhunk has served as a lifeline to the mainland for this isolated community. Now with the U.S. Postal Service facing declining revenues and cutbacks, the Cuttyhunk branch faces the prospect of closure, along with 43 other post offices in Massachusetts identified in a nationwide review.

“I think it would be a hardship for the town of Gosnold and especially for Cuttyhunk,” said Gosnold selectman Gail Blout. “It’s one of our two links to the mainland, the other being the [New Bedford] ferry. By not having the post office it changes the way the community functions.”

The “downtown” village of Cuttyhunk consists of the town hall, a one-room schoolhouse, a library, a church, the historical society, a market and the post office. Ms. Blout said that a daily visit to the post office has become an age-old part of townspeople’s routine.

“All those buildings are within maybe a couple of hundred feet of each other,” she said. “This is how people function every day, they come in and they do their errands, they come to town hall to do business, they go to the market and they go to the post office to get their mail. It’s a way of life for the community and it would really be a hardship for our Island. It would change it.”

Cuttyhunk’s police station, town hall, businesses and residents would all be left without on-island mail service if the cuts went through.

Ms. Blout says that she has no idea how she would retrieve her mail without the post office which services the entire Elizabeth Island chain.

Bob and Jenet Olesen of Huntington, New Jersey. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“We haven’t even thought of that,” she said. Ms. Blout said the issue would be discussed at tonight’s selectmen’s meeting.

“I’m going to suggest that we do a letter campaign,” she said. “We’ll write to the officials at the postal service and also write to our elected officials and we’ll ask the community to do the same.”

To postmaster Janet Burke, who is one of only nine people to hold the position since 1877, the post office seems ripe for expansion if anything, not closure.

“We have 88 post office boxes, some of which are held by multiple families,” she said. “We actually need more than we have. I also have about 90 general delivery customers because I don’t have enough boxes.”

From May to October the postal service delivers mail six times a week to the Island by ferry from New Bedford, and then twice weekly in the winter.

The Postal Service claims that the post offices being considered for closure, some 3,653 nationwide, have been targeted for their number of customers, but Ms. Blout thinks that her town’s post office is being eyed due to a case of bureaucratic oversight.

Janet Burke: “it places our town in a vulnerable position.” — Mark Alan Lovewell

“I tried to explain to people that I think they were just crunching numbers and our post office was one of the ones that probably has low revenue,” she said. “People here are concerned. They’re saying that the postal service doesn’t understand our island and the way we function.”

Prior to 1877 postmaster Burke says that the people of Cuttyhunk would retrieve their mail in New Bedford by catboat, but she says that she personally does not have a boat and that times have changed.

“Without a postal service it really places our town in a vulnerable position,” she said. “And we’re in a vulnerable position as it is, being 14 miles out to sea.”