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Like the slightly earlier Manchester Street Station, this building uses Georgian Revival forms to invest the still-new technology of generating electricity with power and dignity. The colossal round-arch windows, pilasters framing the ends and center pavilion of the long elevation, and the strong cornice line achieve a monumental scale that truly celebrates the wondrous activity within. After the building became redundant, following consolidation at and additions to Manchester Street, this building (bereft, alas, of its symmetrically arranged six towering smokestacks linked by lacy trussing and dramatically slashing diagonals of metal chutes that conveyed coal from the waterfront to the furnaces) was donated to Heritage Harbor, a visionary consortium of historical and cultural organizations to be consolidated in one central location. As this volume went to press, however, that worthy venture unfortunately remained very much unfulfilled. 

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

This complex is comprised of several brick and granite-trimmed, Georgian Revival-style structures set on the east side of Eddy Street. A tall, square, brick, three-by-three-bay block (1924) is set close to Eddy Street behind an iron fence with brick piers which borders the property and a parking area to the west. To the east stands a long, rectangular block (turbine house, built 1925; boiler house, built 1917). These blocks both feature granite trim, tall, round-arch window openings with granite keystones and sills, tripartite windows above, granite stringcourses, and brick corbeling.

Windows on the three-by-three-bay block had been filled in. Attached to the west is a rectangular, brick, flat-roof, four-story block (switch house), set to be demolished in 2019 or 2020. The building is more modest than the remainder of the complex and features rectangular window openings. 

The first electric company in the city was the Rhode Island Electric Lighting Company (1882), which supplied the electric light for ten arc lamps in Market Square. Two years later, Narragansett Electric Lighting Company was formed by Marsden J. Perry and other Providence businessmen. The company’s first customer was the owner of a skating rink on Aborn Street. That same year the firm received a contract to produce electricity for 75 arc lamps in downtown Providence.

SAVED: In 2006, the complex was slated to be redeveloped as the Heritage Harbor Museum, but the project stalled in the following years. In 2014 Brown University, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island broke ground on a project to adapt the property as a nursing school (RIC and URI) and administrative space (Brown). It was completed by CV Properties and opened in late 2017, rechristened as South Street Landing.

Photo by Heidi Gumula

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