Yesterday, demolition began on the 1871 Alexander F. Adie House on Atwells Avenue, an historic building lining the streets of one of Providence’s most vibrant neighborhoods. There are supposed to be plans for a hotel in its place. As a community we need to remain vigilant to ensure that this site does not turn into another ‘temporary’ surface lot.
This is just the latest example of a repeated pattern – City Hall continues to turn a blind eye to the destruction of important historic buildings, and this disregard cannot continue. Too often, historic buildings are demolished or intentionally neglected until demolition becomes necessary and justified.
This isn’t just about preserving our history. It’s about strengthening our economy. Moving our economy forward doesn’t require bulldozing our history – it requires utilizing it. We should already have learned the lesson that historic preservation is economic development. Our significant and largely intact historic building stock is a critical part of what makes Providence a cultural center with a thriving tourism sector. Further, the upkeep, preservation and creative adaptive reuse of these buildings have a real multiplier effect throughout the local economy.
City Hall has a responsibility to step in to protect our history and to recognize its vital role in our economic well-being. But this responsibility, just like so many historic buildings throughout our city, has been neglected. As Mayor, I will make historic preservation an integral part of our city’s economic development strategy.