Share This

The history of this site encapsulates and symbolizes that of Downtown Providence. A modest wood-frame house, one of the many in this late eighteenth-early nineteenth-century residential neighborhood, was the first occupant of the site, and it gave way in the late nineteenth century to a five-story masonry commercial building, similar to those across Mathewson Street on either side of Westminster Street.  After World War II, that building was reduced to two stories and reskinned with plate glass and stucco to fulfill an urban-renewal dream of revising the “outdated” Victorian Downtown. The bedraggled and vacant building gave way to a pocket park, the suggestion of 1990’s silver-tongued golden boy Andres Duany, who imagined vest-pocket parks with “liner” buildings to generate activity on Providence’s major Downtown streets. Duany’s vision didn’t descend to the details of the actual market for either the liner buildings or the park, but the concept seemed admirable at the time. The park was realized as a memorial to Robert E. Freeman (1948-1992), an avid and articulate urbanist who played several roles in the public and private sector, last as executive director of the Providence Foundation. As a talented broker of ideas, Freeman engaged many design professionals, including Duany. The park, however, did not live up to expectations and became a shabby disappointment soon after its creation.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.