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Five years have passed since this industrial Art Deco gem of Smith Hill was last listed, and sadly not much has changed except for the effects of a robust graffiti campaign.

Originally the State Board of Public Roads Maintenance Building, the concrete and brick, 2-story structure is a notable example of the machine aesthetic and was one of the first modernist buildings erected by the State of Rhode Island in the early 1930s.

Narragansett Bay Commission took ownership in 2001 with plans to have the building demolished. Fortunately, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission intervened and determined, in 2003, that the building is eligible for a National Register listing and instituted a preservation easement on the property. The ownership then changed into private hands where it has remained since 2006. While still standing, the building exists in a state of underuse and disrepair, and as a target for vandalism.

Fortunately, the property has the protection of the Providence Landmarks District – Industrial & Commercial Buildings District; therefore, future demolition plans must be approved by the Historic District Commission. PPS envisions a higher and better use for this early modern structure and will happily work with the owners and the State to identify a solution.

© 2020 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.