Column: Newport Grand: Guffaw or grandeur?


Proposed Beaux Arts casino retrofit for Newport Grand. (Northeast Collaborative Architects)

Proposed Beaux Arts casino retrofit for Newport Grand. (Northeast Collaborative Architects)

The appliqué of classical elements to the shed that once housed Newport’s jai alai fronton may take the cake in the sweepstakes for the world’s most ridiculous architectural renovation.

Newport Grand, with its big red “S-L-O-T-S” sign emblazoned on its faux façade, circa 1997, has stumbled along ever since. Its appearance brings a chuckle from drivers on the Newport Bridge as they approach the City by the Sea.

But I kid myself. It is in all probability not a chuckle but a guffaw. It is hard for a proud city to reckon with a guffaw.

The May 6 news story “Paolino’s Newport Grand bid bets on table games” featured a black-and-white sketch of the shed dressed up nicely as a Monte Carlo casino. But a color version of the sketch on the Northeast Collaborative Architects website had a roofline colored so bright a green that it looked like shrubbery, as if the proposed casino had escaped from the popular topiary gardens in Portsmouth, at the other end of Aquidneck Island.

To read the rest of this column, please visit The Providence Journal.

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,, 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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