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Westminster Street, circa 1950

2011 Ten Most Endangered Properties

  • Admiral Esek Hopkins Homestead
  • The Arcade
  • Jerothmul B. Barnaby House ("Barnaby's Castle")
  • The Cathedral of Saint John
  • Providence National Register District: Benjamin Dyer Block, George C. Arnold Building, Providence National Bank Facade, Teste Block
  • Narragansett Electric Lighting ("Dynamo House")
  • Grove Street Elementary School
  • Outlet Parking Garage
  • Providence Public Schools: Asa Messer School & Annex, Vartan Gregorian, West Broadway Elementary
  • Neighborhood Theaters: Bomes, Castle and Columbus




New Plan for Historic Bank Façade Announced

On Monday, November 14 Providence Mayor Angel Taveras joined the preservation community to announce new plans for the Providence National Bank Building façade. The façade was saved in 2005 when developers proposed to build the tallest residential tower in downtown Providence on the abutting property. Steel bracing has supported the façade since development stalled several years ago, blocking the pedestrian sidewalk on Weybosset Street and disrupting the street's unique curvature. The Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and the City of Providence have been discussing the future of the site with O'Connor Capital Partners for the past year, and new plans for the façade will restore lower Weybosset's historic streetscape.


Providence Arcade Set to Reopen

The Providence Arcade is set to reopen this fall with retail on the first floor and residential units on the second and third floors. Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and PPS Board President Lucie Searle applauded Arcade owner Evan Granoff's announcement of the project during a press conference earlier this year.

Plans call for 14 new shops and restaurants and 48 partially furnished microlofts that, with many averaging 225-270 square feet. Two and three bedroom residential spaces will also be available. Speaking at the press conference, Lucie Searle said the project will, “Breathe new life into the old building.” In late March, a new Arcade website was launched showcasing plans for each micro-loft unit and providing details on the retail spaces available.

Built in 1828 and designed by architects James Bucklin and Russell Warren, the Arcade is constructed of granite blocks and stuccoed ashlar. Six Ionic columns on each facade are made of granite quarried and carved locally at Bare Ledge Quarry in Johnston, Rhode Island. The Arcade is a staple of downtown, part of Providence not only because of its national historical and architectural significance but also because of the personal significance that is has for so many Rhode Islanders. In 2008, tenants were forced out of the Arcade in order to accommodate a proposed $8 million renovation that would have resulted in the building’s transformation to house a single tenant. The renovation never happened, and the Arcade has been on the PPS Ten Most Endangered Properties List since 2009.


Redevelopment Ongoing at Teste Block

Work is underway to convert the Teste Block, along with Narragansett Garage and the Providence Gas Company Building, into residential units. Plans were first reviewed by the Downcity Design Reivew Committee in August, 2011, and work has continued into 2012. The Teste Block had previously been listed on the PPS Ten Most Endangered Properties List every year since 2007. 


Grove Street School Demolished

On Friday, December 16, it was announced that a demolition permit had been issued for Grove Street Elementary School. By the end of the following week, the 110 year old building was reduced to rubble. The fate of Grove Street School has been unclear since 1982, whenthe late funeral director Richard Tarro purchased the building with the intention of putting a parking lot at the site.

The Tarro family began to demolish the building in February 2007 without a permit and in violation of a stop-work order, and the case had been tied up in the legal system for almost five years. Last summer, owners again attempted to demolish the building before building officials stopped work due to Tropical Storm Irene. Grove Street School appeared on the PPS Ten Most Endangered Properties list seven times in the last ten years.

Although the demolition represents a significant loss for the city's preservation community, it may bring attention to the need for stronger regulations. While a zoning ordinance prohibits a parking lot at the Grove Street School site, it is unclear what will happen with the property.


Outlet Parking Garage Demolished

The Outlet Garage (1963) was demolished in August of 2011. The Terminal Warehouse Complex (1913) has been approved for demolition. Grove Street School (1901) has endured yet another partial illegal demolition (after the City had revoked its previously issued demolition approval), leaving its fate in jeopardy. None of these sites have a redevelopment plan.