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The Roger Williams Park Seal House was constructed in 1938 along with a monkey house and an elephant house as part of a Works Progress Administration project. The stone structure echoes rustic WPA designs built throughout the country during the Great Depression. When this unique building was included on the 2012 Most Endangered Properties list, it had been unused since the zoo consolidated animal spaces in the early 1970s. With its stone chimney crumbling, copper flashing falling off, and slate roof failing, the Seal House sat in poor condition. Located directly adjacent to Roosevelt Lake, the stone walls at the base of the building were slowly eroding.

In late 2012 the Park and Zoo both fell victim to acts of vandalism, specifically people who were entering the grounds at night in order to steal valuable copper materials. Some of the items stolen included plaques and manhole covers. The Seal House was saved from vandalism as police caught two men on its roof attempting to remove its copper fixtures.

SAVED: Since that time, The Rhode Island Foundation and City of Providence have created a conservancy that is restoring historic resources and implementing other park improvements. As of February, 2019, the Seal House has been stabilized and plans were developing for statuary and more improvements.

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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.