The sawmills in Annapolis have shut down, the apple orchards are mostly gone and the only store in town burned down about 20 years ago.
Now the rural hamlet, home to about 500 people in the far northwest corner of Sonoma County, faces the loss of one of its last remaining institutions, a one-room rustic post office on a curve in Annapolis Road six miles from the coast.
Among the 3,700 post offices nationwide targeted for possible closure by a deficit-ridden U.S. Postal Service, the weathered, wood-frame post office built in 1901 is more than a place to pick up mail and buy stamps.
"It's like a hitching post," said Brother Toby McCarroll of the Starcross Community, harking back to Annapolis' 19th century origins.
A bulletin board provides space for notices and longtime postmaster Rae Brodjeski is a human conduit for community concerns, like the latest missing dog.
"If I find a dog, I'll call her," said McCarroll, whose monastic order has been an Annapolis fixture since 1975.
But in the Washington, D.C., accounting over the Postal Service's multi-billion-dollar losses, the social fabric of communities like Annapolis may not count for much.
The Postal Service, a self-funded federal agency, faces steadily dwindling revenues brought on by a epochal shift in human communication to the Internet, with e-mail, texting and social media supplanting letters and stamps, now derisively called "snail mail."
In small communities especially, the prospect of losing a post office is stirring protests, with members of Congress, including North Coast Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Mike Thompson, expressing concern.
"They want to rip the heart out of the downtown," said Barry Vogel, a Ukiah attorney opposing the plan to move all postal services from the historic office downtown to an annex on the east side of the city near Highway 101.
His group gathered 5,000 signatures on a petition to preserve Ukiah's 74-year-old downtown post office with New Deal murals on the wall. If their appeal of the postal service's decision to abandon the old building is denied, Vogel said his group will consider legal action.
Healdsburg lost its downtown post office after a fire gutted the building and the Postal Service moved all service to a postal annex, refusing entreaties to move back into town.
The Camp Meeker and Villa Grande post offices in west Sonoma County also are on the list of 104 California sites under study for possibly closure.
In Camp Meeker, the post office is a scruffy trailer beneath the redwoods along Dutch Bill Creek, next to the volunteer fire department off Bohemian Highway.
It's not much to look at, but for residents in Camp Meeker's aging homes — most originally built as summer cottages on a steep hillside — the post office is a community hub.
"A place to meet and talk about ideas," said Bill Blackburn, a Camp Meeker resident since 1992, picking up his mail on a sunny afternoon last week.
The mandatory public meetings to discuss the Postal Service's proposed closure plans will be held Wednesday at the Villa Grande post office and Thursday at the Camp Meeker post office.
In an 80-page report to Congress last year, the Government Accountability Office said the postal service's business model "is not viable" and that losses due to declining mail volume and stagnating revenue could exceed $238 billion over the next decade.