Norwich Post Office

The establishment of a post office solely serving the community of Norwich arose during the years following the American Revolution in 1782. The post office was located next to the First Congregational Church opposite the Norwichtown Green. Just two miles away, the busy seaport at Chelsea Landing served as the homeport for forty-two busy merchant ships that operated as the economic catalyst to the rapidly growing community. In 1784, Chelsea was officially incorporated as the “the City of Norwich” and a new post office was erected at Chelsea Landing.

In 1835, construction began on the Norwich & Worcester railroad line that would fully transform Norwich into a regional transportation hub and growing center of commerce in the northeast. The rapid economic growth of Norwich would in turn create an upsurge in the volume of mail at the local post office.

Another dramatic surge in mail volume occurred during to the Civil War years between soldiers and their families. During 1861, approximately 50,000 pieces of mail were exchanged between soldiers and their families during a three-month period. During that same three-month period in 1864, nearly 80,000 letters were mailed between those same parties.

Following the Civil War the Post Office moved its operations to a rented space in a building on 77-85 Main Street in downtown Norwich. In 1884, the Norwich post office employed the first letter carriers. By 1889, the local office employed ten letter carriers who delivered a total of one million pieces of mail that year including postcards and newspapers. During the 1890’s, a national union, the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed to support the growing multitude of letter carriers now employed across the nation.

In 1899, the post office would move to a new more spacious location in the Shannon building on Shetucket Street in an effort to process the ever-increasing volume of mail. It soon became apparent that an even larger building would be required. In 1903, construction began on a new post office on the site of the former Amos Hallman mansion on Main Street. Designed by James Knox Taylor, the supervising architect of the Department of the Treasury, the new post office opened in 1905. When the American Thermos Company built its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Norwich in 1914, it contributed significantly to the increased demand for parcel delivery by the local post office. During World War One, the Norwich post office expanded to nine substations throughout the delivery area.

During World War Two, the last major expansion of the post office was completed when two new wings were added to the main building. The Social Security Administration and Selective Service Board each had offices in the new additions to the building.

To view images of the Norwich Post Office throughout its long history visit the Otis Library’s Flickr for our digital collection of historical photographs.

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