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Manufacturers Index - Providence Engineering Works

Providence Engineering Works
Providence, RI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Metal Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jun 17 2019 10:29PM by Mark Stansbury
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Providence Engineering Works was created with the 1899 merger of Providence Steam Engine Co. and the Rice & Sargent Engine Co. As the company names imply, the merged company specialized in the manufacture of steam engines. By 1921 the name was Providence Engineering Corp. As that business declined in the face of electric motors and internal combustion engines, they built tractors and auto parts as well as a line of sensitive drill presses. They survived until 1955 when the business was liquidated.

Information Sources

  • American Steam Engine Builders: 1800-1900 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2006 page 196.
  • The 1942 edition of Shurman's Machine Shop Work has an illustration of a sensitive drill press, "Courtesy of Providence Engineering Works, Inc., Providence, R. I."
  • 1934 American Machinist.
    The Providence Engineering Works, Inc., Providence, R. I., has appointed R. Lewis Giebel, 236 West 55th St., New York, N. Y., as representative for its line of sensitive, ball-bearing drill presses.
  • The Smithsonian has extensive records of Providence Engineering Works, spanning 1883 to 1908. Their company summary is "Engineers specializing in stationary engines and general machinery. It was incorporated in 1863 as the Providence Steam Engine Company, and merged in 1889 [sic] with the Rice and Sargent Engine Company to become the Providence Engineering Works."
  • The New England Wirelss & Steam Museum has a page on Providence Engine Works. "373 (521) South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island. Manufacturers of Rice & Sargent and Improved Greene Steam Engines. The company was founded on March 28, 1899 by merging the Providence Steam Engine Company and the Rice and Sargent Company. Providence Engineering Works employed 350 machinists at the time of its founding. The company built tractors and parts for Maxwell Motor Cars after the decline of the steam engine industry. The company was liquidated in 1955 and the complex was bought by the New England Butt Company, a division of the Wanskuck Company."
  • The 1910 Catalogue of Copyright Entries: Pamphlets, leaflets... in a section indexing "Books, lectures, dramatic compositions, and maps" for January-December 1910, lists "Providence engineering works. Rice & Sargent Corliss engines. 12923."
  • A website on the Columbia car has a page on the 1913 demise of the Columbia which mentions the Providence Engineering Works as a partner in the United States Motor Company, created in 1910 to provide a sales organization for smaller manufacturers.
  • The 2009 book, Maxwell Motor and the Making of the Chrysler Corporation, by Anthony J. Yanik, briefly describes the role of Providence Engineering Works in forming the United States Motor Co. "Of the companies that merged with U. S. Motor, Providence was the only one to receive cash as well as stock in the transfer... Early in December 1912 Walker and Strong, the U.S. Motor receivers, formally gave Flanders the authority to conduct all U.S. Motor business except those affairs involving the auditing, accounting, and treasury department... Already shuttered were the Providence Engineering WOrks and the Maxwell-Briscoe factory in Auburn, Rhode Island. Most of the machinery in both plants had been sent to the New Castle, Indiana, factory."
  • Prominent Families of New Jersey: Volume I has a biography of Henry Weeks Johnson, then vice president and works manager of the De Laval Steam Turbine Company of Trenton..
    ...After his [1903] graduation from Stevens, he entered the service of the Proidence Engineering Works, at Providence, Rhode Island, manufacturers of the Rice and Sargent reciprocating engine, the Kerr steam turbine and the first manufacturers of Maxwell automobile engines in quantity production. Beginning as special apprentice in the shops of the company, Mr. Johnson rose gradually in the organization through the positions of engineer draftsman, chief draftsman and assistant superintendent. In 1912 he resigned to become mechanical superintendent of the Bullard Machine Tool Company at Bridgeport, Connecticut...
  • The wikipedia biography of Richard Henry Rice provides some background on Rice & Sargent Engine Company.