Tag Archives | Preservation

PBN: Grace Episcopal undergoing exterior renovation


Image from Google Street View

Encased on two sides by scaffolding, Grace Episcopal Church is undergoing a nearly $800,000 exterior renovation that will clean and restore its stonework.

In addition to cleaning and repairing the stone, and repointing the masonry, the renovation will repair and paint the metal roof, which has leaked for several years, according to the Rev. Jonathan Huyck.


Financed through congregant contributions, it will be followed by a major capital campaign, the first undertaken by the church in 25 years. The plan is to expand into a new building, built over a portion of the adjoining parking lot owned by the church, he said.


Providence Preservation Society Most Endangered Properties 20th Anniversary Photo Exhibit – May 28, 2015


From PPS:

For 20 years, PPS has culled the annual Ten Most Endangered Properties with the help of concerned neighbors, advocates and preservationists. Each year, these properties have been captured visually by the photography of local artists, helping to tell the stories of these important sites.

Celebrate this milestone with us at a Retrospective Photo Exhibit, featuring 20 of Providence’s most significant preservation stories from the last two decades! Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and view Providence’s historical assets as captured by another of the city’s assets – its photographers.

Reception will be held in the Atrium at the Peerless Building. Thursday, May 28 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.

Funding for this free, public event is provided in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funders. This retrospective exhibit was also made possible with support from the June Rockwell Levy Foundation and Dr. Joseph A. Chazan. The exhibit space within the Peerless Building was generously donated by Cornish Associates.

For more information, go to ppsri.og/exhibit or contact Paul Wackrow at 401-831-7440 or


News & Notes

A couple of red traffic lights against a blue sky

Photo (cc) Horia Varlan

Better Cities & Towns: The benefits of removing stop lights

In the 1990s, the City of Philadelphia removed 800 traffic lights. Traffic flow improved and accidents declined by 26 percent in these intersections.

Recently, Wayne State researchers recommended that Detroit remove 460 signals, or 30 percent of its total inventory. And that figure may underestimate removable signals, the researchers note.

For pedestrians, four-way stops are much better—because every automobile has to come to a complete stop and traffic is calmed.

For pedestrians, removing traffic signals also helps maintain their right-of-way. If one approaches a stop light and is unable to reach the beg-button before the light changes, the red hand tells pedetrains and motorists that the pedestrian is not allowed to cross, even if they are trying to cross with the green which they should be allowed to do by right. Even if the walk-light actuates, turning drivers interpret their green as their right-of-way and treat the pedestrian as secondary.

A non-signalized intersection gives pedestrians the right-of-way.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: One-way streets are failing their cities

In John Gilderbloom’s experience, the notorious streets are invariably the one-way streets. These are the streets lined with foreclosed homes and empty storefronts, the streets that look neglected and feel unsafe, the streets where you might find drug dealers at night.

“Sociologically, the way one-way streets work,” he says, “[is that] if there are two or more lanes, a person can just pull over and make a deal, while other traffic can easily pass them by.”

It’s also easier on a high-speed one-way road to keep an eye out for police or flee from the scene of a crime.

So all the streets that were made one way on Federal Hill to deter drug activity, actually made it worse? Thanks NIMBYs.

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Sticks and Stones: The 30th Annual RI Statewide Historic Preservation Conference on Saturday, April 25 in Glocester


The 30th Annual Rhode Island Statewide Preservation Conference will take place in Glocester and throughout the region on Saturday, April 25. Organized by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the conference considers the theme of “Sticks and Stones”: historic rural landscapes and the long-term impact of changes on the land. The sticks are the forests, cleared for agricultural fields long ago, regrown, and now managed as conservation land, park, and private woodlot. The stones remain where they were placed to mark burials, to provide sturdy building foundations, and to build walls that separated farm fields and delineated property boundaries.

Glocester is the hometown host for this year’s conference. Guided walks through Chepachet Village will explore themes of local history, architecture, industry, and planning. Tours further afield will visit working farms, mid-century modern homes nestled in the woods, and a forested landscape that was the site of several historic farmsteads. Additional tours will venture to Borders Farm and Foster Center, North Scituate, and Harrisville. Panel presentations will discuss the legacy of our public woodlands and demonstrate how LiDAR technology can penetrate forest cover to find evidence of historic landscapes and archaeological sites. Additional workshops will take on a range of topics like preservation grants and tax credits, local planning initiatives, Rhode Island’s Art Deco architecture, and a new statewide initiative to create heritage tourism apps for your mobile phone.

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Providence Preservation Society 2015 Most Endangered Properties List


Atlantic Mills in Olneyville in 2005. Photo by Jef Nickerson

The Providence Preservation Society has released their list for 2015 of the most endangered properties in Providence:

Providence Preservation Society Releases 2015 Most Endangered Properties List

Providence, R.I. (January 30, 2015): The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) announced the 2015 Most Endangered Properties (MEP) List at the organization’s Annual Meeting last night, featuring historically significant properties deemed in threat of deterioration, neglect and demolition.

In a city known for its extraordinary architecture, many historic buildings are threatened by factors such as neglect, insufficient funds, adverse public policy, and inappropriate development. For 20 years, PPS has been working with concerned neighbors, preservationists, and activists to put together this annual list. In recent years, properties noted on the MEP list have reflected additional threats of the continuing recession: foreclosure, low occupancy, and a lagging market. To raise awareness of these issues, PPS has made its annual MEP list an integral part of the organization’s advocacy efforts.

The MEP’s purpose is to generate interest in, and support for, the preservation of these significant structures; to educate the public about the benefits of historic preservation and the unique architectural resources in our city; and to foster creative collaboration among property owners, developers and other interested parties to bring about positive changes in each property. Most buildings on the annual Lists represent notable aspects of local community life and character.

2015 PPS Most Endangered Properties List (in alphabetical order):

  1. Atlantic Mills (1863)
  2. Broad Street Synagogue (1910)
  3. Cranston Street Armory (1907)
  4. Grace Church Cemetery & Cottage (1834)
  5. Esek Hopkins House (1756)
  6. Former RIDOT Headquarters and Garage (1927)
  7. Sheffield Smith House (1855)
  8. St. Teresa of Avila Church (1883)
  9. Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House (1867)
  10. Westminster Congregational Church (1901)

Many properties featured on past Most Endangered Properties Lists have successfully been saved. Formerly listed properties include the Masonic Temple, the Foundry, the Shepard’s Building, and most recently, the Teste Block and Arcade. PPS is also celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the list, and will begin a program series this spring highlighting significant progress over the past two decades.


Providence Preservation Society Symposium – November 6-8, 2014


The 2013-2014 Providence Symposium speaker series is cultivating an important dialogue on preservation, development and quality of place, with a specific focus on Downtown Providence. From open space to transportation, economic assets to partnerships, we explore the key components in the making of a great city.

The series brings national experts to Providence to talk about creating healthy and successful urban environments. Join us and take part in this critical conversation about our city.

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ProJo: Paul Graseck: City Council still has time to save Pawtucket landmark


A recent controversy instigated by the Pawtucket City Council betrays a shortsightedness that runs counter to the city’s effort to revitalize its downtown. City council members have proposed removing the leaky tower that rises above City Hall instead of repairing it.

Taking down the tower — a 1933 Art Deco landmark that decorates the building in which the mayor’s office is housed, a structure on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983 — would be a serious error in judgment, proof that the council members entrusted with the responsibility to promote and enhance Pawtucket have neither instinct for how to jump-start the local economy nor vision of what the city can become.

I’d contribute to a “Save the Pawtucket City Hall Tower” Kickstarter.


383 West Fountain Street Renovations


Way, way, way back in 2005 in the UrbanPlanet days, Armory Revival had plans for a new building at this site. As with many things in the middle of the last decade, that didn’t happen. Fast forward to today though and Armory Revival is doing a nice renovation of the block.

From their website:

This quirky collection of one and two story brick industrial buildings is quietly being transformed into one of the busiest places in the city by The Armory Revival Company. The 40,000 square foot former Waterman Stables and Combination Ladder Company buildings, featuring fabulous skylights, exposed ductwork, wood beams, private entrances and flexible, efficient floor plates are being developed for a variety of office and commercial uses. Modest rents, abundant on-site parking and immediate access to Interstate 95, Downcity and the Hospitals make this Westminster Crossing location a fantastic choice for your business. 383 West Fountain Street is now home to the most successful Planet Fitness in New England and Riverwood Mental Health Services.

There’s a floorplan on the site which is a little hard to read as displayed, but you can get an idea of the building.

It is nice to see some action happening in what I like to call the Near West Side.


Providence to Create New Historic Landmarks District


Broad Street Synagogue from the Providence Preservation Society’s 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties list. Photo by Jesse Burke for PPS.

As part of the Re: Zoning process, the City of Providence has designated a new historic landmarks district. Also, the City will remove buildings which have been demolished form the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District; which begs the question, why is there and ICBD if buildings in it are getting demolished? From the City:

City of Providence to Create Historic Landmarks District to Preserve Properties

New designation protects historic properties outside boundaries of existing historic districts; residents should seek designation by August 11, 2014

Mayor Angel Taveras announced today the City of Providence will create a new Historic Landmarks District to strengthen its preservation efforts and as part of the city’s Zoning Ordinance revision.

“We are working creatively to preserve Providence’s historic architecture,” said Mayor Taveras. “The new Providence Landmarks District will protect individual properties that having historic significance but that are not within local historic districts.”

The Providence Landmarks District will be composed primarily of residential and ecclesiastical buildings, function like other City historic districts, and include design review and demolition protections. The owners of these historic sites, such as those that have been recognized by the Providence Preservation Society, can ask that their property be designated as a Providence Landmark and request their building be included in the new district. Property owners interested in having their building designated should contact the Department of Planning and Development before August 11, 2014.

In addition to creating the Landmarks District, the City is modifying two of its existing historic districts: the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District and the Jewelry Local Historic District. Changes include adding about 30 properties to the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District, removing properties that have been demolished, and removing overlapping jurisdiction with the Downtown Design Review Committee in Downtown.


PPS: Save Rhode Island’s Historic Tax Credits

The R.I. House Finance Committee did not include historic tax credits in the proposed budget fr next year. The Providence Presevation Society has issued the following call to action:

Act Now to Save Rhode Island’s Historic Tax Credits!

pps-logoLast year, the State Historic Tax Credit Program was reinstated, and 26 new projects are underway – including the rehab of the Tirocchi House on Broadway and the George C. Arnold Building in Downtown Providence!

However, there are 27 additional projects throughout the state still waiting to receive credits. Without funding for Historic Tax Credits, most of these projects will not happen. This would mean the loss of nearly $160 million in construction activity, an investment of jobs and revenue which our economy desperately needs. Rhode Island’s Historic Tax Credit program has an excellent track record. From 2002 to 2008, it generated $1.3 billion in new private investment in Rhode Island’s real-estate economy. This resulted in 22,000 construction jobs, 6,000 permanent jobs, and total wages of more than $800 million.

Last week, the House Finance Committee declined to recommend funding for this program. The House will take up the budget this week; only a groundswell of voices from around the state will convince representatives to include Historic Tax Credits in the budget. Time is short – immediate advocacy is needed.

PPS supports Preserve Rhode Island’s efforts to restore the State Historic Tax Credit. Contact your Representative in General Assembly to ask them to urge the Speaker of the House, Nicholas A. Matiello, and the Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Raymond E. Gallison, to pass a budget that includes funding for Historic Tax Credits. Email or call your Representative before Wednesday, June 11th (they are expected to act on the budget on Thursday).

We also urge you to contact Speaker Matiello’s office directly:

Nicholas Matiello
House of Representatives
State House, Room 323
Providence, RI 02903
401-222-2466 •

Lynne Urbani
Director, Office of House Policy
Room B43, State House
Providence, RI 02903
401-258-1760 •

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PPS/WBNA: State cancels funding for Cranston Street Armory repairs


Cranston Street Armory. Photo (cc) Sam Teigan

Reported by the Providence Preservation Society and the WBNA:

The West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) announced last week that the State has pulled $3 million allocated for critical exterior repairs to the Cranston Street Armory.

Built in 1907, this magnificent building was designed as a focal point around which much of the West End of Providence was developed. The Armory has been on the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Properties List five times over the last twenty years, and the State funds to repair the Dexter Street tower are essential to maintaining the integrity of this landmark building. According to the WBNA, work was scheduled to begin last week, and a contractor had already been hired by the State (owner of the building).

From the WBNA:

This building has the potential to be a significant economic development generator for the state of Rhode Island (and the neighborhood) but only if repairs are made to it. The plans are prepared, the project was bid and the contractor hired. It makes no sense to stop the project now when all the planning work is done. Your ACTIONS could make the difference and please ask your neighbors to also act for this castle for the people.

Please help WBNA and PPS advocate for Cranston Street Armory by sending an email to the officials listed below urging them to reinstate the funds for the exterior repair to the Armory.

  • Governor Lincoln Chafee – (401) 222-2080
  • Special Projects Coordinator Jonathan Stevens – (401) 222-2080
  • Director of Administration, Richard Licht – (401)-222-2000
  • Speaker Nicholas Mattiello –
  • Senate President M. Theresa Paiva-Weed –
  • Senator Paul V. Jabour, Senate District 5 401-276-5594
  • Senator Harold Metts, Senate District 6 401-276-5561
  • Senator Juan Pichardo, Senate District 2 401-276-5561
  • Representative John J. Lombardi, House District 8 401-453-3900
  • Representative Scott A. Slater, House District 10 401-222-4433
  • Representative Anastasia Williams, House District 9 401-222-2457

UPDATED: WPRI: RI moves ahead on $206M nursing school project


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Education on Monday unanimously signed off on a proposed 15-year lease for the state’s two nursing schools to move into a new joint facility that would be built inside the decaying former South Street Power Station in partnership with Brown University.

The $206-million project, unveiled last year by developer Dick Galvin of CV Properties LLC, would redevelop the former power plant along the Providence River and adjoining property into academic space for the state; office space for Brown; student apartments; and a parking garage.

The parking garage and student housing would be in new buildings built on adjacent parking lots.

May 15, 2014: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

Taveras Administration Proposes South Street Landing Agreements Requiring Tax-Exempt Institutions to Pay Taxes

Development of former power station viewed as significant opportunity to expand city’s tax base, create jobs, spur economic growth in Knowledge District.

The tax-exempt tenants of the proposed South Street Landing development project will pay taxes to the City of Providence under agreements proposed by the administration of Mayor Angel Taveras.

“South Street Landing is a once-in-a-generation economic development opportunity for our Capital City,” said Mayor Taveras. “The project promises to expand Providence’s tax base and increase tax revenues, create construction jobs and permanent jobs, help jumpstart development in the Knowledge District, improve public access and recreation along our waterfront and assure the preservation of an iconic building in our city.”

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UPDATED: PPS: General Electric Base Plant Demolition Proposal


Image from Bing Maps

Update 4pm: The demolition has been approved on a technicality, we’re waiting on PPS to issue a statement and will post it when they do.
This post originally appeared on the Providence Preservation Society’s website. Reposted with permission.
Now I’m being told this afternoon’s meeting is canceled.

A special meeting of the Providence Historic District Commission will be held on Monday, May 5, at 4:15 pm at 444 Westminster to vote on a demolition application for the General Electric Base Plant complex at 586 Atwells Avenue. Built c. 1916, the GE Base Plant stands as a fine expression of post-World War I industrial architecture, and according to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission the plant was once the largest producer of lamp bases in the world – employing 500 people at the Atwells Avenue site.

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PPS “Yesterday’s News” – April 3, 2014

lennonSheila Lennon, author of the Providence Journal’s Time Lapse Blog will explore unique and revealing historic images from the Providence Journal’s archives that highlight extraordinary cases of urban renewal and landscape change throughout Rhode Island. An editor at The Providence Journal for nearly 30 years, the last 15 of them on the Web site, Sheila was the Journal’s first blogger. A native and nearly lifelong Providence resident, she studied American history at both Wellesley College and Brown Graduate School. Co-presented by the Governor

Henry Lippitt House Museum
5:30pm reception, 6:00pm presentation
Governor Henry Lippitt House • 199 Hope Street
Free for PPS & PRI members, $10 for non-members. Members can register by emailing

News & Notes


Image from Cyclehoop

Fast Company: These Recycled Plastic Dividers Can Create A Bike Lane In A Second

Painted bike lanes are safer for cyclists than riding in the middle of the road, but bike lanes that are separated with a curb are even better. For example, one study found that cyclists in separated lanes had 80% fewer accidents than those in regular bike lanes. But it’s often tricky to convince city governments to take the extra, more concrete step of separation. One product from a U.K. design firm aims to help.

The “Armadillo” is a low-slung recycled plastic bump that can be installed along the edge of a bike lane. Set at an angle, the bumps allow enough space for bikes to ride back out into the street if they need to, something that isn’t as easy with a full concrete curb. But it still keeps cars out.

Mashable: London to Test ‘Smart’ Crosswalks

The system, called Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) uses cameras to figure out how many people are waiting to cross the street and adjusts traffic signals accordingly. So if there is a large crowd waiting, for example, the signal to walk will last longer, giving the crowd more time to cross the street.

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R.I. Statewide Historic Preservation Conference – April 26, 2014


Pride in Preservation: 29th Annual R.I. Statewide Historic Preservation Conference on Saturday, April 26 in Warren

The 29th Annual Rhode Island Statewide Preservation Conference will take place in Warren on Saturday, April 26. Organized by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the conference considers the theme of “Pride in Preservation.” As statewide leaders and mom-and-pop shopkeepers urge Rhode Islanders to take pride in the local and homegrown, preservationists respond by taking pride in local places and working to reuse, restore, and interpret.

The town of Warren is the host for this year’s conference. The surest way to measure Warren’s pride in preservation is to take a walking tour of the storefronts on Main Street, the wharves along Water Street, the artists’ studios in old mills, and the houses, churches, and other distinctive buildings in the historic district. Other conference tours will venture by bike, bus, and boat to Warren’s more distant corners as well as to neighboring Barrington, East Providence, and Bristol. Panel presentations will discuss putting pride to work for effective advocacy on behalf of preservation tax credits, pedestrian-friendly design, community preservation education, and Warren’s working waterfront. Other sessions will feature historic cemetery landscapes, the archaeology and early history of the region, and social media.

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WPRI: ‘Superman’ building again seeks state support


Superman Building banking hall. Image by Jef Nickerson

The owner of Providence’s tallest building said Monday he will again seek state support to help turn the vacant skyscraper into apartments.

David Sweetser, whose real estate investment firm High Rock Development owns 111 Westminster Street, is calling for a “public-private partnership” to renovate the building that he claims would create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state.

Full Disclosure: I work for Cornish Associates who are consultants for High Rock Development.