Franklin's 1936 Historic Post Office and Former City Hall
The foundation of the Historic Post Office building at 55 West Madison Street was laid in 1936, and the building opened with great fanfare in April 1937. It served the community as the Franklin Post Office until 1980 and as Franklin City Hall from 1981 until 2008.
A 500-year flood in 2008 led to the relocation of City Hall and the building sat empty for almost ten years. In October 2017, RFD began converting the space into a new restaurant while restoring the original 1930's style and feel of the space. The downtown Franklin building is under consideration as a National Historic Landmark.
The front lobby contains the original tiles, brass door hardware and entry woodwork from the post office built and restored teller windows. The large open main dining room was originally the mail sorting area. Two special dining areas include the Post Master's Office and the Vault which can be reserved for private dining experiences.
RFD has worked diligently to preserve and restore as much of the trim and original aesthetics of the building as possible. If you look carefully in the mail sorting room, you can see the marks in the original maple floor from decades of mail sorting. Near the junction of the wall and ceiling near the vault, one can see viewing ports near where the Postmaster and the Postal Inspectors could monitor operations from the hidden Look Out Gallery which they accessed through passages that ran from the basement to the attic.
The original construction blueprints housed in the Johnson County Museum of History were used as a guide in the restoration and renovation of RFD Franklin. Materials were carefully selected to match or be compatible as much as possible with the original design specifications. Post office fixtures were carefully curated from across the country to enhance the the post office environment. New space on the the south side of the building and a new patio were added to transition the structure into a modern restaurant so it could once again serve all of our community and region.
Real Food Fresh Dining - Why is the name RFD?
RFD can stand for "Real Fresh Dining", part of RFD's motto: "Real Food, Fresh Dining" or even "Reservations for Dinner".
The name also is a tribute to the building's postal heritage from a time when "Rural Free Delivery" was still a relatively new postal service.
Rural Free Delivery began in the United States in the late 19th century to deliver mail directly to rural farm families. Carriers delivered along Rural Routes (first known as RFD Routes). Prior to rural delivery, individuals living in more remote areas retrieved their mail from distant post offices or paid private carriers for delivery. At that time, more than 65% of the American population lived in rural areas. Indiana communities were leading advocates for the innovation, and Fayette County in east central Indiana has long claimed to be the birthplace of Rural Free Delivery.
Rural carriers registered letters, sold stamps and money orders, and served as traveling post offices. Rural Free Delivery brought tremendous benefits to rural families and communities and marked the first time the postal service became close to universal for American households.
Rural Free Delivery connected the cities to the farms, and RFD Franklin restaurant brings farm fresh flavors back to the city by partnering with local farmers and small producers where possible.