CIHS Recognizes Iconic Captiva Mailbox
Friday, March 22, 2019 the Captiva Island Historical Society paid tribute to the special and unique mailbox that’s been a part of the island’s colorful personality for the past two decades.
In 1999, on one of his many stays on island, artist Lauri Kaihlanen of Rockport, Massachusetts was asked to decorate the Captiva mailbox. It was a piece of art that captured the tropical beauty of our little island. Some would say it was the only mailbox in the U.S. postal system that had a distinct personality.
CIHS presents plaque to Postmaster Carol Marlet (left) with CIHS members Ginny Reiss, Mike Boris, Jewel Jensen, Queenie Viglione, Cindy Sargent and Tom Libonate
After almost 20-years that distinctiveness came to an end in late 2018, when it was required Captiva’s iconic mailbox be taken out of service and replaced with the regulation U.S. Postal System blue mailbox. That’s when islanders Ron Gibson and Tom Libonate, along with Captiva Postmaster Carol Marlet, felt there needed to be a way to preserve the mailbox and find a new location to display it as a piece of living art and a testimonial to Captiva’s colorful history.
As good fortune would have it, artist Lauri Kaihlanen, the original creator was planning to be back on the island in mid-November and was asked if he would make his original design look like new.
Artist Lauri Kaihlanen (right) who originally designed the Captiva mailbox in 1999, with long time Captiva resident Ron Gibson
After Gibson and Libonate transported the mailbox to what amounted to an outdoor studio under the Gibson residence, Lauri got out his paints and brushes and went to work. He poured his creativity and artistic talents into the project.
Once the paint was dry and the mail deposit areas of the mailbox were sealed, so it wouldn’t be mistakenly used as a working mailbox, it was loaded back on the golf cart and carried to its new home in a garden area at the entry to the Captiva post office.
Tom Libonate, President of the Captiva Island Historical Society along with Ginny Reiss, Boris, Jewel Jensen, Queenie Viglione and Cindy Sargent of the CIHS Board, presented a commemorative plaque to Postmaster Marlet for display at the garden site of the iconic Captiva mailbox, where it will remain a fond reminder of Captiva’s vibrant character.