Tag Archives | Providence Preservation Society

Providence Preservation Society Advocacy Alert: Rhode Island Hospital Planning to Demolish Historic Southwest Pavilion

From Providence Preservation Society:

Advocacy Alert: Rhode Island Hospital Planning to Demolish Historic Southwest Pavilion


All photos by Frank Mullin

Next Tuesday, Rhode Island Hospital will appear before the City Plan Commission to request the demolition of the the historic Southwest Pavilion. Located at the heart of the Hospital’s campus, the Southwest Pavilion was included on the PPS Most Endangered Properties list in 2010, and stands as one of the only survivors from the original Hospital landscape. Its loss would be devastating to the city’s sense of history.

Following feasibility studies in 2010 and 2015, the Hospital is favoring demolition due to the high cost of restoration. PPS is advocating for Rhode Island Hospital to consider other options, which could include making roof repairs and mothballing, extending the life of the building until an appropriate use is found.

Show your support for this building by attending the City Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, at 4:45 pm, 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

What YOU can do…

Show Up:

Show your support for this building by attending the City Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, at 4:45 pm, 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

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PPS Symposium – Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood – November 5-7, 2015

Image from PPS’ 2014 Symposium – Photo by Cat Laine

From Providence Preservation Society:

Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood

Providence’s neighborhoods help us trace how the city was built, and why. Through them, we reveal the people and cultures that contributed to the city’s evolution. Each neighborhood tells a unique story of Providence and its people. Over time, as the city matured and populations shifted, local landmarks also took on new roles, uses, and meanings and residential, commercial, civic, and recreational spaces evolved.

Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood, will examine neighborhood identity, community assets, and the importance of “human capital” to the city’s success. Building on our 2014 focus on downtown Providence and what makes a great city, we are now moving into our residential districts to discuss programs and policy blueprints for upward mobility, sustainability, and community development, honoring the individual character of Providence’s neighborhoods.

Speakers include:

  • Donovan Rypkema, Principal of PlaceEconomics
  • Majora Carter, Urban Revitalization Strategist and Social-Enterprise Pioneer
  • Ned Kaufman, author of Place, Race, and Story: Essays on the Past and Future of Historic Preservation.
November 5 – 7, 2015
The King’s Cathedral
1860 Westminster Street, Olneyville

For more information and to register visit


Providence Preservation Society seeks nominations for 2016 endangered properties list


From PPS:

Providence Preservation Society Calls for Nominations for the 2016 Most Endangered Properties List

Seeks public input in identifying significant at-risk Providence properties

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) announces that the nomination period for its annual Most Endangered Properties (MEP) List is now open. For over 20 years, PPS has assembled the MEP list to highlight historic assets – properties that contribute to the life and character of the city but are endangered by threats such as neglect, deterioration, demolition, development, insufficient funds, and adverse public policy. By drawing attention to these resources, PPS helps gather energy around efforts to preserve the vitality of the Providence community and its built environment. Call for nominations is open until Friday, October 30, 2015.

The MEP List, its photo exhibit, and its related events have generated important dialogue around these historic assets in the City for more than two decades. This activity has inspired engagement, action and even the successful restoration and saving of some properties on the List. Nominations help PPS create the 2016 MEP List. Through this, the public plays a critical role in supporting historic preservation efforts and working toward solutions with property owners, developers, and others to bring about positive change in each property.

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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


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.


PPS Annual Meeting featuring former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy – January 29, 2015


Tom Murphy. Photo from ULI.

From the Providence Preservation Society:

PPS Announces January 29 Annual Meeting

Featuring Former Mayor of Pittsburgh TOM MURPHY – Meeting Will Also Highlight Providence Revolving Fund’s 35th Anniversary

Providence, RI (January 9, 2015) – The Providence Preservation Society welcomes Tom Murphy, former Mayor of Pittsburgh and senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, to their 2015 Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5:30 pm, at the Providence Public Library. Having leveraged billions of dollars in economic development in Pittsburgh, Mayor Murphy will speak about his experience in urban revitalization. The event will also celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Providence Revolving Fund, which was formed by the Society’s Board of Trustees in 1980.

“When Mayor Murphy took office in 1994, he built upon Pittsburgh’s existing assets to create a dynamic urban experience,” stated Brent Runyon, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society. “With new political leadership, and development beginning within the I-195 District, Providence is well-positioned for the same type of renewal.” After three terms as mayor of Pittsburgh, Mayor Murphy joined the Urban Land Institute in 2006, focusing on the economic impact large institutions and public-private partnerships have on local economies. The Providence Preservation Society has long contributed to the economic vitality of Rhode Island through its work in the capital city, preserving our important past, while being a partner in the city’s growth.

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ProJo: Symposium offers wish list of ideas to spur development of Route 195 land


Photo from RIDOT

Jan A. Brodie expects there’ll be a groundbreaking in 2015 on the vacant former highway land in the heart of the capital city, but she unveiled a holiday wish list Friday afternoon for what she thinks would push forward pending development projects.

Brodie, executive director of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, would like no sales tax and no corporate taxes for projects built on the nearly 19 acres available for development after the state’s highway-relocation project. She’d like an “institutionalized, predictable” tax-stabilization agreement for city property taxes that would last at least 15 years, she told about 60 people gathered for the final session of the Providence Preservation Society’s year-long symposium, “Building the New Urban Experience.”

No one on the panel supported Chapel View as a vision for what should be done on the 195 land. Thank goodness.


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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Providence Preservation Society announces 2014 Historic Preservation Awards winners


Johnson & Wales University, Center for Physician Assistant Studies. Photo by Heidi Gumula for DBVW Architects from PPS

Celebrating Preservation in Providence

PPS 2014 Historic Preservation Awards

On Friday, November 7, 2014 the Providence Preservation Society (PPS) will recognize the recipients of the 2014 Historic Preservation Awards. The PPS Historic Preservation Awards recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses that have maintained and enhanced the architectural heritage of Providence through preservation projects and new design. Eight preservation projects located throughout Providence will receive awards.

In addition to those projects receiving awards, PPS is honoring an individual whose vision for preservation transformed the Brown and Sharpe Company manufacturing complex into a thriving mixed use development. The late Antonio Guerra, who passed away on October 11, will receive a posthumous Community Preservation Award. Mr. Guerra purchased the complex shortly after Brown and Sharpe moved out in the 1960s, redeveloping the site’s many industrial buildings into The Foundry Corporate Office Center and Promenade Apartments. Mr. Guerra was previously recognized in the Providence Preservation Society’s 50th Anniversary Hall of Fame in 2006.

The PPS Historic Preservation Awards ceremony will take place on Friday, November 7, at 4:00pm on the first floor of the Industrial Trust Building, 111 Westminster Street, Providence. The Awards are being held in coordination with PPS’ Providence Symposium, Not Always Easy: Building the New Urban Experience, November 6-8. To register, visit Tickets for the awards ceremony and reception are free, but advance registration is required.

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Olneyville development and Atwells demolition appeal on the June 25, 2014 Zoning Board of Review agenda


Two notable items are on the June 25, 2014 Zoning Board of Review agenda.

First, the proposed McDonald’s and Family Dollar Store in Olneyville seeks variances from Zoning:

RPS ASSOCIATES, LLC: filed an application requesting a Dimensional Variance and Special Use Permit in order to construct two (2) new commercial buildings: a 4,316 square foot quick-serve restaurant with two (2) drive-thru lanes and an 8,400 square foot retail store, along with any associated site improvements on the property located at 48, 50 & 54 Plainfield Street and 4, 6, 10 & 14 Atwood Street (bounded by Dike St.), also known as Lots 46, 47, 66, 98, 99, 100 & 101 on Tax Assessor’s Plat 105; Lots 46, 66, 99 100 & 101 being located in a General Commercial C-2 Zone and Lots 47 & 98 being located in an Industrial M-1 Zone. The applicant is requesting a Dimensional Variance for relief from Sections 305, 305.1(Footnote 10), 425.2, 425.2(A), 425.2(B), 604.3 and 607.3, which are regulations governing front yard setback, landscaping, and freestanding menu board signs. Further, a Special Use Permit is sought pursuant to Section 303(5.0)-Use Codes 57.1 and 57.2, to construct the proposed new restaurant at over 2,500 gross square feet and to permit operation of two (2) drive-thru lanes in the C-2 Zone. Together, the lots in question contain approximately 64,295 square feet of land area.

Next, the Providence Preservation Society and others are appealing the Historic District Commission’s decision to allow the demolition of the GE plant on Atwells Avenue:


APPELLANTS: Providence Preservation Society; Green Lot, LLC; Monohassett Mill Condominium Association; Clay Rockefeller; Eagle Square Condominium Association, Erik Bright; and Steelyard

PROPERTY OWNER: General Electric Company

SUBJECT PROPERTY: 586 Atwells Avenue, also known as Lots 282, 556, 657, 30 & 634 on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 30

The Appellants are appealing the Decision of the Providence Historic District Commission issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness dated May 5, 2014, concerning the proposed demolition of the existing structure(s).

The Zoning Board of Review meets on Wednesday, June 25th at 444 Westminster Street in the First Floor Conference Room. The Olneyville item is on the 6pm agenda, the Atwells item is on the 7pm agenda.

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: 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

Providence Preservation Society 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties

The Providence Preservation Society has released its annual list of the Ten Most Endangered Properties in Providence. The list will be highlighted with a photo exhibit at their annual meeting tonight.

The List:


All photos by Jesse Burke for PPS.

57 Federal Street (Early 19th Century) Federal Hill
PPS Most Endangered: 2014 Building type: Residential
Threat: Neglect

Among the oldest buildings on Federal Hill, 57 Federal Street is a two story, 5-bay-facade, center hall-plan house with a single interior brick chimney and a central entrance with sidelights, located between Atwells Avenue and Broadway. While Federal- era houses of this style are not uncommon on the East Side of Providence, the Federal Hill neighborhood was largely undeveloped grazing land before 1820. Although 57 Federal Street is likely one of the oldest remaining buildings in the immediate area, it is not included on any historic resource survey, and is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the existing door head may be a modern replacement, several of the building’s details remain remarkably intact including the building’s clapboards and window sash. Unfortunately, the house has been abandoned for several years, with broken windows on the second story leaving the building completely open to the elements.

In the coming year PPS hopes to better document this unique building, and work with the City of Providence to fully secure the building and address maintenance and safety issues.

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The Providence Preservation Society’s 56th Annual Meeting featuring Jennifer Bradley – January 23, 2014

Brookings Institution Fellow and Co-Author of The Metropolitan Revolution JENNIFER BRADLEY to Speak at PPS’ 56th Annual Meeting

Second in PPS’ Yearlong Speaker Series entitled Not Always Easy: Building the New Urban Experience 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties List Announced

jennifer-bradleyThe Providence Preservation Society welcomes Jennifer Bradley, fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution, to their 56th Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 23, 2014, 5:30 pm, at Brown University’s Salomon Center. The event is also the second installment of PPS’ yearlong speaker series entitled Not Always Easy: Building the New Urban Experience, featuring dynamic urban leaders and experts on topics including government and development, open space and public land, and transportation. Ms. Bradley will speak to the context of her book, co-written with Bruce Katz, on how cities and metros are fixing our broken politics and fragile economy.

The Metropolitan Revolution is a thought-leading book on the shift back to our nation’s urban cores. Jennifer Bradley, along with her co-author Bruce Katz, is leading the dialogue on how cities can flourish and ultimately be the drivers for the next economy,” stated Brent Runyon, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society. “The Providence Preservation Society has long contributed to the economic vitality of Rhode Island through its work in the capital city, preserving our important past while being a partner in the city’s growth. We are excited to have Ms. Bradley with us to share examples from other cities as our second speaker in the Not Always Easy: Building the New Urban Experience series, and as we turn the page to another year of preservation in Providence.”

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PPS A Yearlong Series Begins: Adrian Benepe – November 14, 2013

A Yearlong Series Begins: Join Us For The First Conversation On Open Space And Public Land

Adrian Benepe at the Iconic and Historic Industrial Trust Building
November 14, 2013 • 5:30 – 8:00 pm
111 Westminster Street, Providence RI

File Name : DA1_8307.JPG File Size : 3.3MB (3417416 Bytes) Date Taken : 2006/06/23 12:00:58 Image Size : 4288 x 2848 pixels Resolution : 300 x 300 dpi Bit Depth : 8 bits/channel Protection Attribute : Off Hide Attribute : Off Camera ID : N/A Camera : NIKON D2X Quality Mode : N/A Metering Mode : Matrix Exposure Mode : Manual Speed Light : Yes Focal Length : 30 mm Shutter Speed : 1/250 second Aperture : F16.0 Exposure Compensation : 0 EV White Balance : N/A Lens : N/A Flash Sync Mode : N/A Exposure Difference : N/A Flexible Program : N/A Sensitivity : N/A Sharpening : N/A Image Type : Color Color Mode : N/A Hue Adjustment : N/A Saturation Control : N/A Tone Compensation : N/A Latitude(GPS) : N/A Longitude(GPS) : N/A Altitude(GPS) : N/AKicking off the Providence Preservation Society’s yearlong series on downtown Providence and the making of great cities is Adrian Benepe, former New York City Parks Commissioner and now Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development at the Trust for Public Land. He will lead us in discussing the benefit and potential for open space and public land.

Adrian Benepe has worked in the public and non-profit realm as a leader in park and public space conservation, design, construction and operation, in the areas of city planning, arts, culture, historic preservation, and landscape and urban design for his entire career. As Parks Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, he oversaw public-private partnerships that catalyzed the development of several signature city parks, including the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park. During his 12-year tenure, he created 730 new acres of parks and public space in NYC, and refurbished a number of existing ones. In 2012, Benepe became Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land and oversees the urban work of over thirty offices whose projects include parks, playgrounds, gardens, trails and greenways across the United States. Benepe earned a B.A. in English Literature from Middlebury College and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University, where he was awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship.

A Conversation with Adrian Benepe is a collaboration between the Providence Preservation Society and the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy.