Rhode Island Stamp Issues - 1960 Automated Post Office
The First Automated Post Office in the United States
Providence, Rhode Island and Intelex Machine Cancels

1771 Philadelphia to
Providence Prior to
Establishment of P.O.

The first Postmaster in Providence, Rhode Island was Samuel Chase who was appointed by the General Assembly of June 1758. Mr. Chase operated the Post office from his book store. The second Postmaster for Providence was John Carter who was appointed in 1772 and operated the Post Office from his print shop at Shakespeare's Head on Meeting Street. Mr. Carter was the Providence Postmaster until 1792. The Providence Post Office was officially established by an act of the United States Congress on February 16, 1790. (Rhode Island didn't ratify the constitution until May 29, 1790.)

Providence, RI
Post Office 1908-1960

Construction was begun on a new Providence Post Office, Court House and Custom House in 1904 at Exchange Place, (Currently Kennedy Plaza). The  new Post Office was completed in 1908 and replaced the old Post Office located on 24 Weybosset Street. After the new Automated Providence Post Office was completed in 1960, the building was turned over to the GSA in 1961 and renamed the Providence Federal Building and Courthouse.

First Fully Automated
Post Office - 1960
Providence, RI

By the mid 1950s, the volume of mail handled in Post Offices around the country was beginning to overwhelm the outdated and antiquated systems then in use.  Providence  was selected as the site for a completely mechanized and modernized Post Office that would improve service, significantly speed-up delivery and provide better working conditions for Postal Workers.   In 1958 Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield ordered construction of the First Fully Automated Post Office at Providence, Rhode Island in the West River Development Area. 

Informational Booklet
Produced for the 
Opening Ceremonies


Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

The contract for the new Post Office was given to Intelex Systems, a subsidiary of ITT on January 20, 1959 and the ground breaking ceremonies took place on April 2nd. Engineering issues faced by Intelex included; methodology for mechanically culling and assembling each kind and class of mail quickly and efficiently, facing, sorting and canceling each class of mail by priority, and methods for getting this mail through all of the various processing functions and quickly dispatching it to its many destinations.

The Providence Post Office was designed with the latest electronic and mechanical devices of the time to automatically move more than a million pieces of mail daily with a speed and efficiency never before achieved.

A 25 foot high Control Tower was constructed to serve as the nerve center of the new building. The Post Office had 6 culling machines, 6 positioning and canceling machines, 11 letter sorting machines, 2 parcel post sorting machines and over 15,700 feet of conveyer belts.


Part II - First Day Ceremony 
Part III - Intelex Markings 

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