Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Blair Mansion: Silver Spring / Blair Station Post Oﬃce
TRANSORMA/TRANSFORMA © 2005
Blair Mansion: Silver Spring
Prior to the development of modern Silver Spring, this immediate area was a bucolic, rural landscape in a portion of Montgomery County then known as Sligo. The property was owned by Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), who also owned sections of Takoma Park and Washington, D.C. that encompassed over 1,000 acres. Blair used this area as an escape from the summer heat of his work and his home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., which is known today as Blair House. While exploring the property in 1842, Blair and his daughter, Elizabeth (1818-1906), discovered a mica-filled spring that sparkled silver. Taken by the beauty of the area, Blair decided to build a rural retreat near the spring and to call his home “Silver Spring”. This summer escape eventually gave name to the entire community of Silver Spring. Blair built a three-story mansion that consisted of 20 rooms, 4 baths, 9 fireplaces, 2 kitchens, and a wine cellar. He moved to his house permanently after is retirement in 1854 and lived out the rest of his life in Silver Spring. The Blair Mansion was inherited by Samuel Phillips Lee (1812-1897) through his marriage to Elizabeth. As the community of Silver Spring continued to grow in the 20th century, the Lee family began to develop portions of the Blair
[The panel text over-lies a photograph of the Blair Mansion from the turn of the 20th Century.]
Blair Station Post Office
An over-scaled postage cancellation pattern was incorporated into the plaza’s paving design as a symbolic reference to the former Blair Station Post office.
The Blair Station Post Office that stood on this site was built in 1949, with additions in 1954. This Post Office represented the tremendous growth of Silver Spring after World war II and played an essential role in the history of the United States postal system. Due to the large volume of mail handled at this facility, which was at one time more than any other Post OfficE in the country, this office was home to the first successful trial of the automated mail-handling machine called the TRANSORMA, which took place in 1957. This acronym stood for TRANsportation, SORting, Marchand, and Andriersen (the last two represented its Dutch inventors). The machine weighed almost 15 tons and stood 13 feet tall and occupied an entire room. It was operated by five key punchers and could sort 15,000 letters into 300 chutes in an hour. This compared with 7,500 letters into 75 chutes an hour by hand. The
[The panel text over-lies a photograph of the transformative “TRANSORMA” mail sorter.]
Art Glass Wall
The original concept for the art wall image is rooted in the dynamism of Silver Spring as exemplified by the millions of letters that flowed through the post office formerly on this site. Cancellation stamps, reflected in a pattern of circles and stripes flow throughout the multi-layered glass reflecting on this history and the cancellation stamps. The glass was hand-painted, silk screened and kiln fired to its final finish.
Artist: Heidi Lippman
Fabricator: Franz Mayer of Munich, Germany
Marker series. This marker is included in the Postal Mail and Philately marker series.
Location. 38° 59.344′ N, 77° 1.774′ W. Marker is in Silver Spring, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is at the intersection of Newell Street and Kennett Street, on the right when traveling north on Newell Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8045 Newell Street, Silver Spring MD 20910, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Blair House (within shouting distance of this marker); Early's Raid on Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); Silver Spring B & O Railroad Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Silver Spring Armory 1914 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Silver Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); Silver Spring Shopping Center (within shouting distance of this marker); The Community of Silver Spring (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Canada Dry Building (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silver Spring.
More about this marker. The TRANSORMA/TRANSFORMA memorial and the marker panels are accessible to pedestrians in the plaza on the corner of Newell and Kennett Streets - the now-redeveloped site once occupied by the old Blair Mansion and the historic Blair Station Post Office - one block southwest of East-West Highway (MD 410) and one block northeast of Eastern Avenue (the Maryland/District of Columbia border).
Also see . . .
1. National Postal Museum. ... story of the TRANSORMA mail sorting machine. (Submitted on May 9, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Wikipedia entry for Francis Preston Blair. (Submitted on October 20, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Technology; U.S. Post Office Department.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Industry & Commerce • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 9, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,461 times since then and 86 times this year. Last updated on October 20, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 9, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 7, 8. submitted on June 24, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.