HP150 Historic Preservation >
Providence Field Trip — Saturday, October 19, 2013
- 9:05 AM — Leave RWU.
- 9:45 AM — Arrive in Providence, Wickenden Street at South Main (Shell station).
- 3:15 PM — Return to RWU.
- 4:00 PM — Arrive back at RWU.
- GoggleDoc here, available for contributions by all students going on the field trip.
2010 News (September-October 2010)
- Landmark house in Providence’s South Elmwood being renovated, Providence Journal, October 17, 2010
- RWU master’s focuses on historic preservation, Chris Barrett, Providence Business News, October 11, 2010
- RI DOT says highway changes ahead in Providence, Providence Journal, October 8, 2010
- Two Rhode Island Housing Programs Receive National Recognition, Providence Business News, October 8, 2010
- Façade’s future is likely to be decided in Housing Court, Providence Journal, October 4, 2010
- Public to offer views on RIPTA streetcar proposal, Providence Journal, September 17, 2010
- Providence hopefuls support preservation, Providence Journal, September 10, 2010
2009 News (September-October 2009)
- Providence-based Nortek files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Providence Journal, October 24, 2009
- When building Brown meant burning bridges, The Brown Daily Herald, October 23, 2009
- Olneyville housing group gets $400k for new headquarters, Providence Journal, October 23, 2009
- Tax changes may be on R.I. horizon, Providence Journal, October 23, 2009
- Worcester safer than Providence, crime statistics say, Worcester Telegram, October 23, 2009
- Design approved for New England Business Bulletin, October 23, 2009
- Iway split: traffic is moving along, Providence Journal, October 22, 2009
- R.I. Foundation gives ‘strategic’ grants for local needs, Providence Journal, October 18, 2009
- R.I. preservation society plans awards, Providence Journal, October 17, 2009
- Give Providence, Rhode Island, a college try, Newsday, October 16, 2009
- Did Downtown Providence’s boom go bust?, Providence Journal, October 15, 2009
- Unions fight tax break for AS220, Providence Journal, October 19, 2009 (Mercantile Block)
- Future streetcar system may connect Brown to downtown, The Brown Daily Herald, October 5, 2009
- Route 95 span needs replacement, Providence Journal, October 5, 2009
- Sustainability 101: Greening Your Business for Advantage, Providence Business News, Ocobert 1, 2009
- AS220 seeks Providence property tax relief, Providence Journal, September 30, 2009 (Mercantile Block)
- Answering the call for Downcity living, Providence Journal,September 30, 2009 (old Providence Telephone Company building, 112 Union Street)
Divine Providence is no stranger to Roger Williams — as
he first settled here in 1636. But the last 350 years have seen
a lot of change, most recently an enlightened urban renaissance starting circa 1986,
spurred by a 80s downturn that has provided the seedbed for positive
change, guided in part by the Mayor's
Office, the Providence
Plan, and other initiatives including the Livable
Providence 2000, which will result in the drafting of a new
urban environmental plan for the City of Providence. Recently,
2004 Duaney and development of a vision for Providence 2020 by
Sasaki Associates (Sasaki text
only; Draft Zoning Ordinance, June 2, 2005;
June 27, 2005).
I-195 — Old I-195 gone!
From Bristol, this trip usually means taking I-195 (Part of the
Eisenhower Interstate Highway System (FHWA,
For the upside see The
American Highway Users Alliance and FHA
history of the system; for the reality: look around as suburan
sprawl, urban disinvestment, and devastating land-use practices.
I-195 and I-95 — introduced in the late 50s and early 60s
— cut through the heart of the city and also occupy or act
as a barrier to the city's river and marine waterfronts. But this
is changing.Through 2009, I-195 is being "realigned"
(Relocation of Interstate 195) to outside the Fox
Point Hurricane Barrier (1966), eastward up to a "reconstructed"
Washington Bridge. Much is already in place, including the signature Providence River Iway Bridge (See RIDOT podcasts on YouTube, listed below.)
This scheme will increase public access to the waterfront: here, India Point.There has been a Replacement of the India Point Park Pedestrian Bridge (New India Point Park podcast on YouTube). Friends of India Point Park is an active community group that has a shared concerns and interest in the 18 acres of open space along the 3,600-foot shoreline at the confluence of the Seekonk and Providence Rivers where they widen into Narragansett Bay. (See RIDOT podcasts on YouTube, listed below.)
Demolition of the existing I-195 bridge will also free up land for "development" on each side of Old Harbor, link the Jewelry District with Downcity. North of Point Street Bridge isthe Dynamo House (350 Eddy Street), the former Naragansett Electric plant, with 300,000 (or the total 419,000) square feet of mixed-use being co-developed by Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse (Dynamo House, brochure); with the Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Heritage
Harbor, which includes a partnership of over a dozen museums, using 55,000 square feet. The $150-million project will include a hotel, office space, restaurants, cafes, retail shops, the Heritage Harbor Museum ($48.2-million) the artistic (by Alex Castro) reinstallation of six historic smoke stacks(191 feet off the ground, approved as a variance by the Providence Zoning Board of Review, alogn with heating and cooling equipment on roof, a large clock, and signature Dynamo House signs. For some work in Baltimore see GReater Fells Point) and a roof garden, including a LEED-certified green roof largely covered by grass and other vegetation. Groundbreaking started November 2007. (See Museum seeks to overcome troubled history, ProJo, November 8, 2007.)
Related RIDOT podcasts on YouTube.
- Iway Project Overview
- Building a Better Highway
- Bridge Design and Construction
- Iway Bridge Float
- New India Point Park
- A Revitalized Waterfront
South Main Street
South Main Street displays the results of early 'historic area
renewal,' guided by the College Hill Study (1959), for the time a truly enlightened
plan that saved historic areas instead of solely considering 'slum
clearance,' and other euphemisms for the wholesale destruction
of historic resources.
South Main Street incudes late 1960s through 80s commercial rehabilitation
projects, infill of residential units, a very large Hospital Trust
Building (that introduces the subject of zoning, addressed later
when we are Downcity), and the beginnings of civic, academic,
and cultural institutions, including the Old
Stone Bank, Licht Judicial Complex, Rhode
Island School of Design, RISD
Museum of Art, Providence
Athenæum and, uphill, the Rhode
Island Historical Society, Brown
University, and other schools.
Prospect Terrace — not on trip
Terrace provides a splendid vantage point. Here Providence
is seen as part of a greater whole. The East Side of Providence
— from the Providence River up to the "Hill" is part of
the southern terminus of the Blackstone
River Valley National Heritage Corridor, 250,000 acres between
Providence and Worcester, an area that includes 25 towns, two
states. Here, the National Park Service is working in partnership with towns, cities, and states to focus
on resource protection, appropriate economic development, heritage
tourism, and other initiatives.
This watershed includes the Blackstone River (that becomes the
Seekonk), which joins the Providence River: a river that begins
in downtown Providence, at the confluence of the Moshassuck River
(now covered by Providence
Place Mall), from the north, and the Woonasquatucket River (an American Heritage River) from the west. This confluence is now identified as Waterplace
Park and Riverwalk, a 90s civic project, funded in large part
by the Federal Highway Administration — and largely developed by William Warner, Architects.
The target of the Capital Center Project [speech
by Mayor Cianci, June 20, 1996] is to the north of Waterplace.
It includes Center Place, the new Amtrak Train Station (designed
by SOM, and built after the
relocation of the railroad tracks out of downtown), the Rhode
Island State House (Wikipedia), and, nearby, the Masonic Temple, a 135,550
square foot pile begun in 1928 but never completed. Now, after
state and city money and effort, and a design charrette sponsored
by the Providence
Preservation Society (with the help of RWU/HP students Cliff
Laube, Colleen Meager, and Jessica Snow), it is about to be an
adaptive use project: a hotel. The Capital Center Project must
be connected to DownCity. This brings up the subject of linkage.
River Greenway Project, developed with the help of the Urban
Land Institute, will provide a greenway and promote rehabilitation
of abandoned industrial sites ('brownfields'), including the Providence
Fruit and Produce Warehouse...if it had not been demolished (it has) (Art in Ruins); Carpionato Properties gets OK to demolish historic warehouse, ProJo 1/10/08; Developer wastes no time in targeting Providence Fruit warehouse, The Phoenix, 1/16/08). Now there is a federal probe: Feds probe state’s sale of former farmers’ market in Providence, Providence Journal, March 22, 2010
Mall, the mega-mall that includes three anchors,
eventually hundreds of stores, 20 cinemas, a five-track railroad
(Amtrack), and the river. South of Waterplace, the Central Business
District — known by some as 'Downcity' (a historic
district) — awaits our later arrival.
North Main — not on trip
Down hill, to the west along North Main Street, is Roger
Williams National Memorial Park, maintained by the National
Park Service. On Thomas Street, just east of North Main, is
the Fleur-de-Lys Studio, a National
Historic Landmark (NHL), whose recent award-winning restoration
(the PPS annual preservation award) included conservation of the
polychromatic exterior plaster, undertaken by RWU Historic Preservation
students/alums. This project was done by Architectural Conservation
Services with John Vaughan (principal of ACS), Alex Mason, Chris
Emery, Dave Bunnell, and Kane Borden, all RWU alum. Nearby, the First
Baptist Meeting House, 75 North Main Street.
Benefit Street's "mile of history" displays the results of the
College Hill plan that addressed the history (including the special
settlement pattern) and restoration of this historic district
listed in the National Register
of Historic Places, which also includes structures listed
as National Historical Landmarks.
This north section was a 'blighted urban slum' by the late '50s.
It is now a preferred address in the nation. These early preservation
efforts also give us pause to reflect on the issue of gentrification.
The change in understanding the 'significance' of historic properties
is illustrated by the parable of the Six Triple Deckers, a story
in which the Providence
Historic District Commission (not to mention the RI Superior
Court) forbids the owner, a former PPS president, from demolishing
the structures. But there is always demolition by neglect, as
these structures have been unoccupied and not maintained since
1988. As for demolition by neglect: a state statute forbids such
action. But, then again, what politician will ever put up money
to protect these houses and then try to collect repair costs from
the owner. This all became a mot point: in the summer of 1998
these structures were demolished by the owner.
Meanwhile, PPS has just formulated a demolition policy; an innovative
initiative that shows preservationists need not react to, but
should best anticipate, change. With change comes new construction
and the issues of infill, sympathetic new construction, contextual
design, design review, and certificate of appropriateness.
Both the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission
(RIHP&HC) and the Providence
Preservation Society are on or near Benefit Street. At 150
Benefit Street, the Commission is housed in one of the several
former Rhode Island State Houses.
The Jewelry District is a roughly triangular section of downtown
Providence, once the center of a booming jewelry manufacturing
industry. The District is bounded to the North by the Southside
of Pine Street. It is bounded to the South by Henderson Street.
Bounded to the East by the Providence River, and to the West by
As the long-awaited I-195 relocation is completed, the property
under the existing portion of the highway that runs through the
district will be available. About 31 acres will be freed up (19.2 acres for redevelopment) and
has been the focus of a planning project called “Old Harbor”.
The Jewelry District’s plan and the plan for Old Harbor
are melded together. Spearheaded, in part, by the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council high-tech firms are occupying some of the properties. Brown University has recently bought several properties in the Jewelry District.
Riverwalk and Waterplace
Riverwalk is the former site (once referred to as 'Suicide Circle')
of the World War I Monument, now located in Memorial Park, adjacent
to Riverwalk (a Federal Highway
which includes 21 panels that chronicle the city's history. Five
years ago, Riverwalk was one of the country's widest asphalt-covered
bridges, obscuring the Providence River. Upstream is Waterplace,
which must be experienced, not written about.
A bit over decade ago, downtown had — among other woes
— a dead, decaying pedestrian mall with late-19th and early
20th century structures obscured by 1960s siding (such as the
Old Providence Journal Building, now restored), and worse —
all promoted by the Downtown Master Plan of 1959. Today, many
public and private sector players are involved in the future success
of Providence, and the vital role Downcity will play. For example,
in 1994 the Coalition for Community Development was established,
with Roger Williams University
as a member.
Major goals are: the center of an Arts
and Entertainment District; change the perception of danger
and concern for safety in the forefront of (potential) visitors
mind's (see Providence Police, Weybosset Information Center, once
a 'comfort station'); use the new zoning ordinance (that is not
limited to downtown, but also addresses the waterfront, public
space, and open space), which promotes preservation; create a
diversity of uses (Yes, Jane
Jacobs.); consider: recreational facilities (a skating rink)
in Kennedy Square; improve access and circulation of public transit;
develop upper floor loft housing (57 Eddy Street and Peerless
Building, both behind City Hall) especially for artists; locate additional municipal parking
facilities; enhance the arts (including initiatives on Empire
Street, described below); possibly locate a new Downcity cinema,
in tandem or in competition with Providence Place initiatives);
retain and recruit educational institutions (Johnson & Wales
and, now, University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University)
and with them student vitality and museums (Rhode
Island Black Heritage Society); rehabilitate empty commercial
buildings; be street smart (reopening streets, restoring two-way
traffic, retaining alleys as public ways; limit the scale of development;
scale of streetscapes, including sidewalk width, here on Weybosset
Street; recruit tenants (anchor stores, destination stores, incubator
space for start-up businesses); 'retail detail' (merchandising,
retailing, display -- lighting, planting, color, props; signage;
filling empty storefronts with displays); and develop advocacy
and awareness (including "Positively Providence" training).
Exemplary projects to date include the Providence Arcade ("America's
first mall," built in 1828, now listed as a NHL), the old Providence
Journal Building, City Hall, Union Station, the Shepard Building,
With a kickoff on October 15 (press release), the Greater Kennedy Plaza Working Group hosted a reception to celebrate the first steps taken this year to transform Kennedy Plaza. Organizers solicited feedback from participants on how they would like to see the Kennedy Plaza area evolve in the future. The vice president for Project for Public Spaces, Ethan Kent, will be a featured speaker at the reception. Project for Public Spaces is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that has helped more than 2,000 communities in 26 countries transform underutilized public spaces into lively, secure destinations.
The "plaza" includes Burnside Park, the Bank of America Skating Center, Biltmore Park and Kennedy Plaza.
The Working Group is a public/private partnership focused on transforming Kennedy Plaza into a lively public square, rich with activity. Public programming now includes events like Public Square Tuesdays, Market Thursdays, Friday Farmer's Market and Rhythm & Soul Sundays and happenings like the Street Painting Festival, Roller Derby, IndieArts Fest, Peace Flags, the Bolivian Festival and R&B Heritage Month.
Critically, the Working Group hired a Project Manager (a "placemaker manager" in Ethan's parlance), Deb Dormody, 401.421.2489 x273.
Westminster Street and Environs (select sites)
- Urban Core Revitalization: Downcity Providence, Cornish Associates
- Downcity Providence, commissioned Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company
- Alice Building (Art in Ruins), 236 Westminster Street, is a seven-story classical revival structure built in 1898 by rubber baron Joseph Banigan and named for his daughter. Now 38 loft-style residential rental units.
- Peerless Building (Art in Ruins),229 Westminster Street. Constructed in 1890’s, what is now known as the Peerless Building is actually five individual buildings: the two most prominent are the Callendar, McAuslan & Troup building and The William H. Low Estate buildint. This cluster of buildings, which except for the Hannah Green Estate building, make up the entire block of Westminster between Eddy and Union Streets. This block was famous for housing the largest and most successful regional department stores until the 1980’s when the Peerless store closed it doors. Now 97 loft-style units with first-floor retail.Houses underground parking with sixty-seven spaces.
- Smith Building (Art in Ruins), 229 Westminster Street. Built by real-estate developer Edwin A. Smith in 1912,. Now has six residential floors and first-floor retail.
- Wilkinson Building aka Westminster Lofts (Art in Ruins), 210 Westminster Street, former Lerner Department Store, constructed circa 1900. Now four residential rental floors with first-floor commercial.
- Mercantile Block, 135 Washington Street, AS220 (Unions fight tax break for AS220, Providence Journal, October 19, 2009)
The Empire Street Arts District is being developed along Empire
and Washington Streets, and the neighboring area. The existing
resources (Trinity Repertory
Company, AS220, Perishable
Dance Theatre, other nearby clubs) need to be sustained and
augmented. Issues that are being addressed: coordinate first floor
retail and restaurant (Packard Building) uses along the street;
enhance vehicular circulation by re-opening streets, reverting
to two-way streets, and improving signage; develop new mixed-use
properties, especially along the now lifeless I.M Pei park.
The southwest terminus of this 'urban renewal' atrocity -- I.M
Pei park -- is Cathedral Square, part of the Weybosset Hill Project
redevelopment, completed by the Providence Redevelopment Agency
in 1962-63. Consider: retain urban grid; Mayor Doyle the so-called
pioneer 1870s pioneer in urban renewal (so much for revisionism);
the Blue Cross Building; the Brutalist Beneficent House (designed
Rudolph), and the lack of diversity, 'eyes on the street',
and other issues that Jane
Jacobs addresses in The Death and Life of Great American
Cities, written one year before this project.
If I.M Pei Park were not enough to separate this part of Westminster
Street (Downcity's 'Main Street') from the central business district,
try constructing the Bishop McVinney Auditorium across former
Westminster Street or -- for that matter -- an Interstate highway
(I-95), with its north-south axis. Combined, these projects have
severed Downcity from the (somewhat) residential area to the west,
flanking Westminster Street and, northwest to Federal Hill, including
the Broadway neighborhood ('a Victorian Boulevard') and the center
of the Italo-American community flanking Atwells Avenue.
While crossing over I-95 consider air rights and decking over
I-95, improvement of service roads (connector streets) into boulevards,
and other initiatives that might breech this barrier. Then, to
the west, consider: use, diversity, and scale as they relate to
60s and 70s urban renewal projects (Westminster House, Classical
and Central High Schools, which are planning new streetscape landscaping
with the help of RISD and Brown), and physical and chronological
connectivity, as described by Kunstler.
Consider: Citizens Bank, Canonicus Square (and the "potato"),
Police and Fire Headquarters, demolition, infill, overlay zoning
and retail needs, brownfields (Louttit industrial site), endangered
properties, new SRO (single room occupancy) hotel -- the Gemini
Hotel, and John Hope Settlement House; rise in asking price of
real estate, too.
Woonsasquacket River — not on trip
Valley and Smith Hill, Providence Neighborhood Profiles
Already completed or underway is the:
- $400 million Providence Place Mall;
- Jefferson Place condo apartment complex;
- Promenade Apartments, formerly the 500,000 square foot Foundry redevelopment, formerly Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing (Art in Ruins);
- American Locomotive Works, Valley Neighborhood. 25-acre site developed by Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, will include rehabilitated mill buildings and new construction, with the potential to reach two million square feet.
- The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Avenue, offers arts and technical training programs designed to increase opportunities for cultural and artistic expression, career-oriented training, and small business incubation. It has 5612 square foot industrial shop featuring a foundry, ceramics studio, blacksmithing shop, and welding shop, as well as studio space and outdoor work and exhibition space. Steel Yard has been granted a Neighborhood Street Tree Planting Award for 18 new trees to be planted this October (2008) on Sims and Harris Avenues.
- Monohasset Mills (Art in Ruins, as the mills web site is down), at 530-532 Kinsley Street, using using HOME funds (which is the largest Federal block grant to State and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households);
- Eagle Square (see Art in Ruins for a perspective on demolition of most of the structures) "redevelopment" (255,000 square foot) anchored by New England’s largest Shaw’s grocery store.
The Woonasquatucket River (along with the Blackstone River) is an American Heritage River (also: American Heritage Rivers Allicance) due to its key role in the industrial development of America. The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project (WRGP; Master Plan as PDF file) is a catalyst for renewal along the Woonasquatucket River in Providence. Work includes three parks (Donigian, Merino, and Dyerville); a bicycle path; mitigation work aided by it's 1998 designation as a Brownfield Showcase Community (Brownfields and Land Revitalization, EPA); 5.7 miles of paths and green spaces stretching from the Johnston-Providence line to Waterplace Park in downtown Providence.
Brownfields Showcase Communities have three main goals:
- to promote environmental protection, economic redevelopment and community revitalization through the assessment, cleanup and sustainable reuse of brownfields;
- to link Federal, State, local and non-governmental action supporting community efforts to restore and reuse brownfields; and
- to develop national models demonstrating the positive results of public and private collaboration addressing brownfields challenges. A partnership of more than 15 Federal agencies with interests in brownfields redevelopment has designated 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities.
The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, organized by staff of the WRGP, is composed of residents, representatives of local and state government, and local non-profits and works to improve the environmental, recreational and economic assets of the Woonasquatucket watershed.
The American Heritage Rivers initiative is an innovative response to help river communities that seek federal assistance and other resources to meet some tough challenges. Without any new regulations on private property owners, state, local and tribal governments, the American Heritage Rivers initiative is about making more efficient and effective use of existing federal resources, cutting red-tape, and lending a helping hand. (Executive Order 13061) Also: Surf Your Watershed, EPA.
Olneyville — not on trip
- Olneyville, Providence Neighborhood Profiles
- Olneyville, Wikipedia
- The Plant, 60 Valley at Delaine, offers live/work, office, commercial, a restaurant and event space.
- Puente, 60 Valley Street. In work with non-profit and start-up businesses, PUENTE creates a powerful bridge to development that allows the organizations to create optimized space for their activities.
- Rising Sun Mills, was Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse's first project in Providence
West Broadway - Armory Historic District — not on trip
Broadway/Armory District neighborhood is working on many initiatives,
including: adaptive use of a 165,00 square foot former National
Guard armory, the Armory;
possible and permissible uses of the Training Grounds; rehabilitation
of structures for affordable housing under the HUD HOME program
(through PPS Revolving Fund, Inc.) and Armory Revival; and --
through the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA, a grass-roots
community development corporation) -- traffic calming; development
of a business association; infill and compatible new construction,
moving and demolishing historic houses, alleyways, advocacy and
neighborhood promotion; street associations; TIP through ISTEA (WiIkipedia);
street cars; small businesses (Cool Cats Building, Pet Store,
the street corner Hudson Market); neighborhood meetings; funky urban projects such as Firehouse 13; the
restoration of a Teague Texaco station, the WBNA headquarters,
for a neighborhood center. The exterior enamel panels were restored
by Architectural Conservation Services, including John Vaughan
and Chris Emery, RWU students.
Or beginning . . .