1915-2015: Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was an activist for equality and labor justice, working with her husband James Boggs in Detroit, and reached a global community with their campaign for workers' rights and understanding across racial and ethnic boundaries. Boggs…

1902-1948: Arshile Gorky

Arshile Gorky was a significant Surrealist painter and a father of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. He was a refugee from Armenia in 1919, where Turkish forces engaged in a mass genocide of the Armenian people. Gorky, originally…

1902: The Imperial Theatre

In 1800, Providence had about 7,000 people. By 1900, the city was bursting with over 175,000 and still growing. The downtown commercial district, once centered on a stretch of North Main Street by the Market House, now extended across the Providence…

1889: YMCA and YWCA

In 1889, the Young Men's Christian Association opened a grand new Romanesque Revival building on a prominent corner of Westminster Street in Cathedral Square. The building contained a gymnasium, auditorium, classrooms, libraries, parlors, and…

1878: English High School

In September 1878, a "magnificent" new high school was dedicated on Pond Street from plans made by prominent Providence architect William H. Walker. The old high school at Benefit and Waterman Streets had been overcrowded for years. The expansion of…

1869-1947: Eva Belle Clemence

Eva Belle Clemence lived and worked in Providence as an independent artist, a difficult space for a woman to find success in early 20th-Century America. Clemence was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1869, but her father Martin was from Rhode Island,…

1862: Perry Davis' Vegetable Pain-Killer

In the summer of 1840, Perry Davis was sick. Physically, debilitatingly sick. His businesses had failed, one after another. His family was living in penury. He had, however, an enterprising spirit and creative mind. He concocted a combination of…

1861: Benjamin Brayton Knight Mansion

Providence's population grew at an extraordinary rate throughout the 19th Century, from about 50,000 in 1850 to 175,000 in 1900, driven by the region's ever-expanding industrial complex. Providence was at the heart of New England's industrial…

1848-1929: Maritcha Lyons

Maritcha Lyons was an African-American teacher, writer, and activist who testified before the General Assembly as a 16-year-old girl to desegregate the Providence Public School System. In 1869, she was the first African-American to graduate from…

1842: Second Free Will Baptist Church

The Second Free Will Baptist Church (SFWBC) is one of the oldest Black congregations in Providence, formed around 1830 by a group who left the African Union Meeting House, itself formed from the departure of African-American congregants from the…

1838: Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul

During the early 19th Century, textile mills, like Grant Mill in the city of Providence, were being built across Rhode Island.  The textile industry required hands to work the many machines that produced the new wealth, and Providence’s population…

1836: High Street Congregational Church

While redevelopment often erases a city's past, the constant re-building of a city over time also leads to the loss of historical memory. One such site is 755 Westminster Street, a historic building from 1899, which replaced the High Street…

1830: Arnold-Palmer House

The redevelopment of Cathedral Square in the late 1960s left few traces of what this busy city intersection once was. One of those remaining traces is the Arnold-Palmer house, moved in 1967 through the prescient preservation efforts of the Beneficent…

1828: High Street Bank

In the early 19th century, the agricultural and mercantile economy of Providence was transformed by the Industrial Revolution in America, begun in nearby Pawtucket at Slater Mill. One essential ingredient for this transformation was capital. Money.…

1812 - 1864: Reverend Edward Scott

Reverend Edward Scott was a political activist and anti-slavery agitator who had, himself, escaped from slavery in Virginia before becoming a minister and community leader. Scott was born a slave in Virginia around 1812. He freed himself as well…

1710: The Plainfield Road

Colonial era roadways tell us something about the story of Providence. Over the course of the 17th century, the English village settlement on the banks of the Moshassuck and Providence Rivers grew, and other settlements were established on…

1638: The Pequot Trail

Right here in the heart of the city lies a trace of an ancient trailway used by the Indigenous Peoples who inhabited this region for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. This stop is located on a ridge of land looking east over the…

Ebenezer Baptist Church

The congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church was born from the first independent African-American church in Providence. In 1819, black congregants withdrew from the First Baptist Church and built the African Union Meeting and Schoolhouse. In 1884, an…

Interstate 95

After World War II, Providence's fortunes were shifting. Textile jobs had moved south. Industry was leaving. Jewelry manufacturing went offshore. Between 1950 and 1980, the population of the city declined by a third. These western neighborhoods were…

All Saints Memorial Church

Providence was once a city of churches. All Saints' Memorial Church is one of the last of the religious communities that grew on “Christian Hill” in the 19th century. Within a stone’s throw were the Stewart Street Baptist Church, the High Street…

Canonicus Square

Canonicus was the Narragansett sachem who offered refuge to Roger Williams and his party in 1636, but before this place was named that in a fit of Colonial Revival fervor, it was popularly called Hoyle Square. In 1953, Rhody Photo News said the…

Thomas S. and Vincent Luongo Memorial Square

Luongo Memorial Square was named in honor of Thomas S. and Vincent Luongo, World War I veterans who lived nearby. Before the name change in 1938, this was Decatur Square and is today a rare space in the city that evokes 19th century city life. The…

Grant Mill

Grant Mill offers a window into Providence’s industrial past and an example of how the city’s industrial buildings have been repurposed for a changing economy. An earlier textile mill was replaced around World War I by this four-story brick…

Providence Armory

The yellow-brick, copper-crenellated Providence Armory, one of the most monumental structures in the city, anchors this historic neighborhood of wood-frame buildings and tree-lined streets. Owned by the State of Rhode Island and partially occupied…

West Broadway Neighborhood Association

Repurposing older structures is a tenet of historic preservation. Here the West Broadway Neighborhood Association practices what it preaches. Since 1983, the WBNA has been one of the strongest and most active neighborhood associations in the city.…

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

St. Mary's is a Gothic Revival monument to the Irish history of Providence. As textile mills changed the industrial landscape of the city in the early 19th century, Irish from Ulster came to work in those mills, many just down the hill in Olneyville.…

Kendrick-Prentice Tirocchi House

This extravagantly embellished house is still called the Wedding Cake House in spite of its current desperate search for rehabilitation. The first owner John Kendrick was an inventor whose American Supply Company dominated the global market in loom…

Bell Street Chapel

Providence’s exquisite jewel box of a French neo-classical temple, the Bell Street Chapel, was built in 1875 for art dealer and engraver James Eddy after a design by storied Providence architect William R. Walker. Eddy dedicated his church “to God,…