The Only Michigan Post Office Located Inside a Convent: 1897-2020
What could be cooler than sending – or receiving – a Christmas card that was postmarked in Nazareth? Nazareth, Michigan, that is...
Nazareth is/was found in Kalamazoo County on the northwest of Gull and Nazareth Roads. It was never a town, village, or city. It's been called a hamlet, with no store or business of any kind...except for the Sisters of St. Joseph Academy on the grounds of the former Nazareth College.
The Nazareth community was founded in 1897 by Reverend Francis O'Brien. It got its own post office in 1899, which was named 'Nazareth' because it was also the motherhouse of the academy (St. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family in Nazareth, Galilee). For the next 100+ years, it became a popular Mid-Michigan thing to do around the holiday season to have your Christmas cards mailed and postmarked at Nazareth. Along with the opening of Nazareth Academy in 1897, Nazareth College followed in 1913.
Then, in March 2020, the academy, along with the post office, was demolished...flattened to the ground. Why? In 2015 it was recommended for demolition because the sisterhood was dwindling in numbers...plus the owners couldn't keep up with the maintenance costs. A “Save Nazareth” campaign began among the locals with peaceful protests, petitions, signs, and prayer vigils. In April 2019, the Kalamazoo City Commission voted against proposed historic districts, which included the academy and college.
The dormitories were the first to crumble to the machines in the fall of 2019. In spite of all the local support to save the place, it was all in vain. By the end of spring 2020, it was gone – except for the piles of stone that used to be the crux of Nazareth.
But good news: you can still get your Christmas cards postmarked in Nazareth! After the academy demolition, the post office was moved to 5073 Gull Road in Kalamazoo. During the month of December, they usually have a special Christmas postmark cancellation.
Sisters of St. Joseph Academy, 1897-2020 (Nazareth, Michigan)