Modernism and Recent Past in Providence: A Self Guided Walking Tour

When I lived in Providence, I spent countless hours working on my landscape architecture studio classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that I barely noticed the buildings around me. I ate, breathed and dreamed landscape architecture.  Although I dropped out of RISD for personal reasons, I cherished the short time I spent working with the excellent faculty and classmates in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Last weekend, I retraced my steps around the Brown University and RISD campuses to experience once again, the architecture I had almost forgotten. On this day trip to Providence I went on a self guided walking tour of Modernist and Recent Past architecture created by Sara Emmenecker, a Public Humanities Graduate student at Brown University. I’m fascinated with the study of Modernism and love learning about and exploring modern architectural resources in New England. To learn more about this wonderful project created by Sara click here and head to Providence and explore the city’s modern architectural resources.

* On a side note, since February of 2010 I have been following agingmodernism.wordpress.com, a project by U.C Berkeley student Melissa K. Smith which aims at documenting the way people adapt, shift and change the modern city experiments of the mid-century. Check her blog out on and be inspired!

Hospital Trust Tower (1973) 25 Westminster Street/One Financial Plaza. Designed by John Carl Warnecke & Associates in the International Style.

Fleet Center (1985) 50 Kennedy Plaza, designed by Helmut Obata Kassebaum Architects. Post Modern Style

Old Stone Tower (1969), 40 Westminster Street. Designed by Shreve Lamb & Harmon

Beneficient House (1969), 1 Chestnut Street. Designed by Paul Rudolph.

J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex (1981), One Dorrance Plaza. Designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta

Dexter Manor (1962), 100 Broad Street. Based on the ideas of Le Corbusier who proposed his "Contemporary City for Three Million Inhabitants." Many examples of high rise apartment buildings are seen in almost any city in the world.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

The Providence Public Library Addition (1953), 150 Empire Street. The additon was designed by Howe, Prout & Ekman. The Providence Public Library is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Providence designed in the Italian Renaissance style with Baroque qualities. The addition is done in the Moderne style.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

A Modern building on South Main Street, 1 block from the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at RISD. More information will be posted soon.

A Modern building on South Main Street, 1 block from the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at RISD. More information will be posted soon.

Leave a comment

8 Comments

  1. A great Modernist slideshow! My favorites are the Old Stone Tower, because it’s hard to believe it was by the folks who brought us the Empire State Building (and the restoration of New York’s City Hall), and the Beneficient House, because that’s one of Rudolph’s funkier, more creative works. Some of those buildings have aged remarkably well and are worthy of modernist preservation.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Todd. I have to agree with you, the Rudolph building really took me by surprise! I loved the funkiness and almost violet color of the bricks contrasting with the “belt courses.” Quite an amazing Modern building.

      Reply
  2. A fine compilation of overlooked buildings! I was searching for information on the modern building on South Main Street. If you learn who the architects were, please do post that information.

    There are numerous notable modern houses in a city not known for its modernism. In my view one of the best is the Philip Dorenbaum House (1939) at 65 Intervale Road. I’m very curious to learn more about it. It has been published, but I can no longer locate the publication.

    Reply
    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment. This post was based on a walking tour organized by the Providence Recent Past Preservation Network. You can contact them to see if they have any other information or you can consult the AIA Guide to Providence Architecture, a fantastic guide (although I can’t recall if the building you are inquiring about is in the guide).

      Reply
    • Also, Providence has some great house by architect Ira Rakatansky. Check out the new monograph Ira Rakatansky: As Modern As Tomorrow.

      Reply
  3. beachcomberT

     /  November 1, 2011

    Glad that your slide show included the Fogarty building, which apparently will soon become dust. A Providence Journal headline today says the building is slated to be torn down and be replaced by — hold your breath — a parking lot!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comment. I have found the article you mention in your comment and have posted it on Twitter.

      Reply
  1. Tweets that mention Modernism and Recent Past in Providence: A Self Guided Walking Tour « The Evolving Critic -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: