More best lost buildings

The Nickel Theater.

The Nickel Theater.

The RKO Albee, successor to the Nickel and predecessor to the Grace Church parking lot, on Westminster.

The RKO Albee, successor to the Nickel and predecessor to the Grace Church parking lot, on Westminster.

A correspondent regrets that my list in this morning’s column (“Providence’s 10 best lost buildings”) did not contain the Albee Theater on Westminster Street. I think he might have meant the Nickel Theater, which was demolished to make way for the Albee, which was demolished in 1970 or thereabouts to make way for the Grace Church parking lot, which exists today. Any number of sumptuous movie houses could have been put on the list, but I like the Nickel best. A real jewel box of a theater. It looks as if its lobby might simply have been cut into an old house built many years earlier when the area was a residential district, not a commercial district, possibly even before the Arcade was built in 1828.

Another, which caused pause on my way to work this morning, was whether I should have included St. Patrick’s Church, across the street from the Rhode Island State House, which was demolished probably sometime in the late ’40s (just a guess*) to make way for the State House annex, now primarily the Department of Transportation. Its picture is below. However, I have concluded that St. Patrick’s was not really eligible to be on a list of buildings that used to be downtown. (It is not included in the survey of downtown architecture published by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission in 1981.)

[*My guess of the late ’40s was about as far off as a guess of mine has (in my recollection) been. A friend in California who used to live in Providence, Lee Juskalian, phoned to say he thought it came down much later, and I find that he is correct. It came down in 1979. My error arose from my faulty assumption that it was replaced by the Transportation Department right across Smith Street from the State House, which was clearly built before traditional architecture had gone completely out of style.]

I hope readers will nominate their own buildings that I should have listed.

St. Patrick's Church was to the northeast, or the right, of the Rhode Island State House.

St. Patrick’s Church was to the northeast, or the right, of the Rhode Island State House.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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