In this digital age, with its mobility and its easy interactivity, I have been trying to imagine how to get readers of this blog interested in helping me write my book Lost Providence, an initiative just now under way. It will be about buildings and houses that have bit the dust in the march to progress. For a long time, progress generally tended to be just that, but since … ahh! Let’s not get into that rubbish just now!
The book was conceived by an editor at History Press, Edward Mack, who saw one of my last columns from my Journal days, “Providence’s 10 best lost buildings” and asked me to turn it into a book. I asked him if I could bring in not just lost buildings but lost projects – projects to improve the city that somehow fell through – on occasion thankfully so.
But I also would like readers to help by suggesting their own ideas for lost buildings or lost projects. For example, a reader might suggest that I mention the succession of designs that were proposed for Parcel 9, especially the nearly nice one by architect Kip McMahan of Robinson Green Beretta, where the GTECH headquarters eventually arose to stink up Waterplace. One reader, Rhode Island Historian Laureate Patrick Conley, has already urged me to include his proposed Conley’s Wharf project to redevelop part of the industrial waterfront along the west bank of the Providence River.
There are all sorts of possibilities, and if some are interesting enough they could result in new chapters in the book, or a chapter that lists and describes the suggestions, along with the reader’s name and the author’s comments. At the proper time, I might also put out on my blog the list of lost buildings that will be described in the book and ask readers to rank which ones are the best. Such a survey would be an interesting addition to the book.
I mentioned some of this in an earlier post several months ago called “Your best lost building here!” Now that the writing is under way, I want to issue the call for lost buildings again. See you name in lights! Or at least in print! Contribute to history!