Ah, Providence. Imagine: I spent four years at Brown University and didn't even consider photographing every post office within 50 miles! That changed somewhat one day last summer as I was heading back from Boston to New York.
Any postal tour of Providence must begin with the Main Post Office, whose retail operations share a building with the Providence P&DC, carriers for a few ZIP codes, and formerly the Southeast New England District offices (whose operations were removed and divided among Greater Boston and Connecticut Valley last spring as part of USPS's cost-cutting measures).
The Providence MPO was featured on a four-cent 1960 postage stamp, celebrating the fact that it was the nation's first automated post office in the U.S., as part of a project known as Turnkey.
You can read all about the then-$16 million post office and stamp at The National Postal Museum and Trains on U.S. Stamps.
Here's a postcard of the post office (credit).
By now the flora has filled in, making scenes tougher to capture. Here's the front customer entrance:
In college I did use a post office all the time, and it wasn't the official Brown University Station: it was the East Side Station on the main commercial row, Thayer Street. Believe it or not, I chose my upperclassmen year residence partly due to proximity to the post office. (Back then I sold used books; my busiest day resulted in three full trips to the post office.) The clerks were great and had character. Here's a photo:
The Brown University Station was discontinued in 2008, when adjacent university mail operations were transferred from historic Faunce House to Walter Hall across the street. Here's a photo of the exterior of the former site.
Normally I would say that closing a campus post office is a bad idea. In this case, the East Side Station is rather close to the campus PO site that the effect on the community might not be significant -- although the discontinued site is closer to the administrative buildings on campus.
Providence's Friar Station is a classified unit located above the mailroom on the Providence College campus is being considered for discontinuance under RAOI; in this instance it would be a bad idea to close the office. Students who live on campus and who don't have a vehicle would have to walk a mile to the nearest facility: North Station (which is also being considered for discontinuance -- another poor idea), or find their way under a highway to the industrial-area Providence MPO. Neither comes across as a particularly reasonable alternative, especially if you want to build a relationship with your supposed future generation of customers.
Friar Station closes for the summer. Here's a photo:
The stately North Station post office. Note the gorgeous integration of the signage into the building:
Downtown you've got the Annex Station, which shares residence with the federal courthouse. Here the procedure for mailing a package is unusual, one I've never seen before in analogous settings elsewhere: You have to first walk over and get your package scanned through the x-ray machines (metal detectors?) at the courthouse security checkpoint before it can be given to the PO. This is to assure that the mail won't pose a threat to the building once it is accepted. Interesting.
Providence, RI: Annex Station:
Another Providence post office being studied for closure is the Weybosset Hill Station, which seemed busy enough when I visited it. I doubt it'll actually be discontinued since it's the only facility in the area.
Providence has some other offices, but I think that's sufficient for now. Hope you enjoyed the postal tour!