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The Providence National Bank Facade was included on the 2009-2011 Most Endangered Properties lists as part of a listing of the Downtown National Register District. When listed, it was being compromised by a number of factors: public policy insensitive to preservation; poor quality new design; unregulated demolitions; and the current declining real estate market following the previous boom. The Teste Block and the Providence National Bank façade exemplified these threats because both could be legally demolished without review under the Downcity Review Commission guidelines, which allowed demolition of buildings that remain unoccupied for five years.

In 2005, Blue Chip Properties and Granoff Associates demolished the Providence National Bank Building at 90 Westminster Street. They saved the 1940s-era 50 Weybosset Street façade, pledging to integrate it into a new structure. In October, 2007, the new project officially stalled due to a softening real estate market. Not only was the promise of economically stimulating new development broken, but the historic Providence National Bank and First Federal Bank buildings were gone. All that remained of them in 2009 was a single façade, propped up by rusting steel beams. Losing the remaining façade would further erode the lower Weybosset streetscape.

In November, 2009, the owner of the Providence National Bank Building site requested that the Downcity Design Review Committee (DRC) consider his proposal to demolish the façade, claiming that the façade was too expensive to maintain. The owner hoped to construct a temporary parking lot on the site, asserting that his proposed parking lot (about 50 spaces) would serve as an asset to the area. Meanwhile, local business owners had complained that the scaffolding has been bad for business, since it obstructs pedestrian traffic. The DRC postponed a vote on the demolition request and ordered the owner to either create a plan to save the façade or present a compelling case for demolition. Thanks to advocacy by PPS and intervention by Mayor Angel Tavares, the owner was compelled to move the steel supports to the parking lot side of the facade, where it remains as of February, 2019. The facade continues to serve as a canvas for art and backdrop for performances.

© 2019 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved.
Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.