Respite for an old hospital?


Rhode Island Hospital’s Southwest Pavilion (Providence Preservation Society/Greater City Providence)

Providence’s City Plan Commission voted unanimously last week to reject Rhode Island Hospital’s plan to demolish the oldest remaining structure on the hospital campus, its Southwest Pavilion. That’s not the end of the story, unfortunately; the hospital (owned by the Lifespan hospital conglomerate) can appeal the decision to the city’s zoning board. But the Plan Commission’s decision to reject the demo of the 115-year-old building was also a decision to reject a recommendation of the city’s planning department.

That took some balls.

Coincidentally, the hospital recently bought a patch of land near its campus that it says it no plans to use, but which also just happens to be the old Victory Plating site – land thought by many to be a better place to build a stadium for the PawSox after its owners’ pitch for land on the I-195 Corridor struck out last summer. RIH also says it was not planning to build anything on the site of the Southwest Pavilion. Hmm.

Last month I wrote “SOS for lonely medical relic,” perhaps a somewhat overwrought jackhammering of the hospital’s desire to demolish the lovely old pavilion, designed by Stone Carpenter & Willson. Let’s hope the decision by the City Plan Commission (I love it’s archaic name!) stands.

Here is today’s Providence Journal story on the unanimous vote by the CPC, “Fate of Southwest Pavilion in the air,” by Patrick Anderson.

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.
This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Architecture History, Development, Preservation, Providence, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Respite for an old hospital?

  1. Anonymous says:

    So it has been used for “storage and office space” in the past. When did those uses become obsolete? No place is paperless or staffless. Come on, use the space appropriately and quit your complaining Hospital.


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