Greater City Providence

35 Weybosset Facade back in the news

ProJo has a story today about the 35 Weybosset Street facade.

Of course, the area merchants are still not happy about the state of the facade (crumbling) and the fact that the sidewalk in front of it is closed. Why would they not still be upset? Nothing has changed since last fall when O’Connor Capital Partners, the parcel’s owners, sought to demolish the facade.

The Journal story brings to light the fact that O’Connor has not only not been maintaining the facade and vacant lot which was to be OneTen Westminster Street, but that they also owe the city over $10,000 for fees related to the closure of the sidewalk on Weybosset Street.

The city may revoke O’Connor’s right to have the sidewalk closed if they do not pay the back fees, which may just play right into their hands of wanting the facade removed. Rumor on the street is they want the facade removed so that they can sell the parcel. The facade and the restrictions agreed to incorporate it into a new building potentially reduce the value of the lot.

While the area merchants just want to facade gone as the solution to the closed sidewalk issues, James Hall, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society would like to see a solution that preserves the facade.

While the Preservation Society’s Hall is sympathetic to business owners’ concerns, he hopes for a more creative solution than demolition.

He says the city derives its authenticity from the fact that its residents have so vigorously preserved its past from the wrecking ball | from the historic houses along Benefit Street to the Masonic Temple by the State House, now home to the Renaissance Providence Hotel.

“Preservation did not create this problem, so it’s tough for us to say, OK, just tear it down already,” Hall said. “That’s rewarding bad policy and bad behavior.”

Late last year we outlined some possible solutions for the facade issue.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • If you think about it, this kind of classical architecture is really one of Providence’s major styles; Brown University, RISD, The Providence Journal Building, and the building that is sort of its mirrored reflection, The Providence County Courthouse, are all designed in this manner.

    For me these types of buildings have always engendered a sense of civic pride, and I hope the builder can see the facade that way too and incorporate it into their new project.

  • It’s too bad that the HDC and other regulatory bodies didn’t have a sense of civic pride when they insisted on saving a 60 year old building façade, but allowed the demolition of a 18th century bank and a distinct Providence example of a late 19th century loft building, all of which were located on the same site.

    With so many outstanding pieces of architecture in Providence, why is it that so many become enamored with less significant examples that aren’t even authentic because they “look” classical. If the façade had been back-filled with a garage as it was originally intended, how classical would the façade have looked with headlights and florescent tubes glaring out through the façade windows?

    I’m not advocating tearing down the façade, it simply isn’t important enough. The best idea in the interim might be to do what was suggested in earlier pieces about this site, which might include reopening the sidewalk by moving some steel braces, removing the Jersey barriers, and lighting the façade as an art installation.

  • The colonial-style bank that was demolished on the other side of the Turk’s Head, was just as recent as this building, early to mid 20th century. I don’t know the reason, (or had any say) in the decision to drastically clear cut the plot, but I was relieved that they stuck with this piece to be incorporated into a new apartment building, simply because it’s beautiful, and the design they came up with to attach to it was just as nice. No abstractions about what was greater or lesser, it’s just beautiful.

    Unfortunately, a year or so passed, the dream of a an apartment building never materialized, probably because of the housing crisis, and what was to be a centerpiece of a new downtown apartment building became ‘What the hell are we going to do with this thing?”

    Personally, I’m all in favor of keeping it until the plans are resurrected to build an apartment behind it. Buildings built post 1945 and well into this century have not continued this style from what I’ve seen, so it’ll be good to keep it around.

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