Providence Preservation Society Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey 2001-2002


The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) sponsored an update of the Providence Industrial Buildings Survey, first published by the RIHPHC in 1981 under the title Providence Industrial Sites. The 1981 survey was conducted by RIHPHC in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office over a period of several years. The survey report (1981) contains information on the industrial development of the City, specific information on individual buildings, and re-use information and recommendations for the rehabilitation of industrial resources (the 1981 report can be viewed online at

Twenty years later, the need for an update has arisen as a result of recent interest in the City’s industrial buildings and their re-use/rehabilitation potential. The new landmark designation (link to city planning site for Industrial and Commercial Buildings District guidelines) and recent changes to the State Tax Credit Program ( has piqued further interest in the reuse potential of these structures. The survey update represents one step in a long-range attempt to preserve the industrial resources that have been such an integral part of the City’s heritage.

The specific purpose of this project is to document and prepare baseline information on selected historic industrial and commercial buildings in the City constructed prior to 1960. The project was designed to provide the documentation necessary to consider the sites for inclusion in the Providence Industrial and Commercial Buildings District (ICBD). For a list of properties included in the ICBD and questions regarding the ICBD, please contact Jason Martin at the city planning office (401-351-4300).

The survey team used information obtained from the Providence Department of Planning and Development to locate historic resources. This information included a list of historic industrial and commercial resources and preliminary Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping showing property location. These items were used in the identification of industrial resources in the field.

Each property included in the survey was field checked, photographed, and researched using both local and state repositories. The basic level of information gathered during the survey included locating each property on a base map (current city plat maps), recording an address and estimated or exact date of construction, and at least one black and white photograph. Additional information collected included style and type of construction, number of stories, building materials, roof configuration, number and type of additions, outbuildings, window and door placement and configuration, and setting.

Historic maps and atlases and city directories were reviewed in order to document the history and use of each resource. Secondary sources of information included existing surveys and historic building data sheets on file at the RIHPHC. (Please refer to the survey bibliography for a complete listing of sources of information.)

The information contained in this survey can be used to guide future planning and decision making. Specific data is available to developers considering investment opportunities in Providence: certified rehabilitation of these historic industrial sites, which are eligible for state and federal tax credits, possible loans, and other economic incentives. The research will help developers work with city, state, and federal government offices to develop, evaluate and approve preservation-sensitive rehabilitation work. A listing of incentives available for property owners has been compiled in order to aid owners, developers, and others in the successful rehabilitation of these resources.

The project was overseen by PPS, with Mary Kate Harrington, Director of Preservation Services, preparing all written documentation for the final report and survey products. Ms. Harrington was aided by Patrick Ross of the Mayor’s Office, who assisted with background research and photography, and interns and volunteers John Audet, Michael Gorun, Alyssa Nordhauser, Samuel Snead, Erica Soscia, Victoria Thompson, and Gregory Wallace. Jon Ozbek of the Department of Planning and Development created the original list of properties to be included in the survey. RIHPHC staff Richard Greenwood and Robert O. Jones provided review of survey materials and the final report.

The Providence Preservation Society would like to thank The Providence Plan for partnering with the Society to make this information available online.

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The online Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey is a partnership between the Providence Preservation Society and The Providence Plan