New Life for Bomes Theater

Published in Preservation Notes, Press & Media.

Since 2009, the Bomes Theater on Broad Street has been in perpetual danger of demolition – whether intentional or by neglect. Many years of community activism, including PPS’s Most Endangered Properties list, successfully convinced the City to invest resources into finding a solution for it. On May 17, 2018, the City announced a new plan for use. PPS’s Executive Director Brent Runyon was there to give remarks, which are included below. 

More coverage of the event can be found here and here.


Good afternoon. Thank you Mayor Elorza and Director Nickerson.

“How will we know it’s us without our past?” Author John Steinbeck’s words in the Grapes of Wrath express one reason we believe it’s important to preserve buildings like this.

In 1994, the Preservation Society inaugurated the Ten Most Endangered Properties program to generate support for historic buildings and properties that represent notable aspects of Providence’s community life and character.

Over the 24 years, we’ve listed more than a hundred places – landmarks, landscapes, neighborhoods and building types.

Since that time, we’ve LOST a dozen or more places while more than that have been SAVED. Our work is never done and that is proven by the number of places we consider to be STILL STRUGGLING. We first listed the Bomes Theater in 2009, again in 2011, 2014, 2016 and as recently as last year. The City itself has a special responsibility to its citizens, past and future, and yet struggles with having enough resources to allocate to all the places that need help. 

We believe the historic fabric of our city is intrinsic to Providence’s special identity, and decisions made about the current built environment must respect and complement that identity. Our decisions should be considered in the context of the architectural legacy that we have inherited and the legacy we will leave for future generations.

Citizens deserve a city that is pleasant, safe, and well maintained, and residents deserve neighborhoods that foster their sense of well-being. We believe these traits of a great city are nurtured by preserving places of architectural and historical significance.

And so we applaud the City of Providence’s commitment to preserving this historic building, thereby enabling new cultural histories to be imprinted upon it. We hope that the new owner will see himself as not only an owner of this building, but as a steward of its history and architectural legacy.

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