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At the time it landed on the Most Endangered Properties List in 1995, the America Street School of Federal Hill constituted one of the few remaining intact school buildings of its period. Unlike other schools that had either been demolished or enlarged, the America School’s simple, two-story red-brick building retained the architectural integrity original to its construction in 1904 and still displayed the building specifications set forth by the Providence School Committee in 1887.

The structure included a flat roof with projecting modillion cornice and brick parapet and followed a roughly rectangular, symmetrical plan. The central section of the front façade recessed slightly, mirrored in the ten foot projection of the central, five-bay, section of the rear façade. For the most part, the original interior detailing and finishes throughout the building had been preserved.   

The America Street School was built as a public primary school for the children of immigrant families who had settled in Federal Hill. The school closed in the 1950s, and until 1995 it served as the home of the Bagalio-Tocci Veterans Association, a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1987 this school building was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1991 the city bought back the school and tried to sell the property for private development. Several plans were proposed but none came to fruition. By 1993, the building, although home to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #172, was underutilized and threatened with demolition by the city. In November 1995, the Providence Redevelopment Agency agreed to sell the school for $1 if a feasible redevelopment plan was presented. PPS helped market this building and identified an interested developer who proposed loft spaces for the building.

LOST: A project to convert the vacant America Street School into 8 units of live/work spaces for artists came to a tragic end on the morning of August 2, 1996, when the school fell victim to arson. Due to irreparable fire and water damage, the building was demolished in early September 1996. The property is currently a vacant lot and is used for parking by patrons of nearby Federal Hill businesses.

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© 2023 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.