There’s a bar in downtown Providence, a karaoke place at Westminster and Empire, called Finnegan’s Wake. Well, today we held Fogarty’s Wake for the Fogarty Building, who’s demo began Monday. I’ve made a cottage industry of disparaging it in print. I did give a eulogy, though, and your skunk-in-the-funeral-parlor correspondent was on best behavior. But hey, the architect’s daughter, Jana Planka, was among the eulogists. Still, knowledgeable heads must have exploded at my restraint. I was told afterward that my eulogy was funny. Maybe. The Journal’s reporter, John Hill, says he will pop my line “I marvel at my lack of hatred for it” into his story. He told me it was “the zen of the event.” Ha ha! I like that!
I met Bill Rappleye, the correspondent for Channel 10, before the wake got under way. He shot a segment on the Fogarty’s demise and our funeral for it. The event was a joint production of Brown University, the Providence Preservation Society and Doors Open RI. Rappleye’s report of the “funeral” gave it over two minutes of air time, which is long for TV (below). “It was the first time I’ve ever seen a ceremony held to bid farewell to a building,” he told his TV audience. That’s me in an early bit listening to architectural historian Marisa Brown, of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, describe the building, its history and why it is being, as Rappleye said, “put out of its misery.”
Other eulogists were Ms. Planka; Ned Connors, an expert in the repurposing of old buildings (the Fogarty was just turning 50, or officially historical); Markus Berger, a specialist in historic interiors at RISD; Elizabeth Francis, director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Viera Levitt, a photographer who specializes in Brutalist buildings; and Caroline Stevens, the director of Doors Open RI. Ms. Stevens invited listeners to give their own eulogies – a few did – or to write down their memories of the building at her organization’s facebook event page. Read the event sponsors’ obituary, which appeared on the website of the Providence Journal.