This is one of the city’s longest running problematic architectural compositions. Now two separate buildings, [Masonic Temple and Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium were] begun by local Masons from designs by Osgood & Osgood (Detroit), the country’s pre-eminent architects for masonic buildings, during the period of great temple building, as its monumentality attests. But the money ran out sometime in the middle of 1928, the workers walked away, and the building remained vacant for more than twenty years. The state acquired the complex in 1945 and finished the auditorium in 1951, renamed Veterans Memorial, to a simplified version of the original design. For more than half of a century Veterans has remained a popular venue for high-school graduations, concerts, and because of its excellent acoustics, is the home of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. While the auditorium found a vital new use, the Temple languished. For more than seventy years it has remained vacant and deteriorating. Periodic studies by the state, in almost comically bureaucratic conclusions, found it was too expensive to complete and too expensive to demolish. To eliminate safety concerns, it was separated from the auditorium in the early 1990s. A charrette, sponsored by Providence Preservation Society in 1996, led to interest in developing the property as a hotel, but, as of this writing, no construction has taken place. Base-heavy and not the best articulated piece of the twentieth-century neoclassicism, it nonetheless has an appeal because of its visual response to the Rhode Island State House across the way. Stay tuned.
-2003 Guide to Providence Architecture