Monthly Archives: November 2019

Imagine all the buildings …

The other day, flipping through stacks of my old Providence Journal columns seeking a shot of a c. 1750 house in Providence’s old village of Hardscrabble (which I found), I came across a column inspired by a website’s image of … Continue reading

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The Nightingale sings, so far

A large square extraordinarily promising brick building arises on the block downtown where hundreds of Providence Journal employees used to park. I just learned today that it will be called the Nightingale Building. Buff Chace, whose work has revived downtown … Continue reading

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Hardscrabble and Snowtown

Hardscrabble in 1824 was a poor hamlet of respectable families headed mostly by free black tradesmen, craftsmen and servants in the town of Providence. Blacks and others along Olney Lane (now Olney Street) lived cheek by jowl, however, with prostitutes, … Continue reading

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Providence riots, 1824, 1831

Here is my Feb. 24, 2005, column in the Providence Journal, headlined “Hardscrabble and Snowtown of yore”: *** HARDSCRABBLE and Snowtown are old Providence neighborhoods that have fallen off the map. In 1824, Hardscrabble was a poor enclave of houses … Continue reading

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Save the Frick Music Room

Boards of institutions always seem to want to do more for the institution than the institution needs. And whenever a board proposes to do something, it is normally more than is judicious, often a lot more – a unwitting attack … Continue reading

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A view of Providence in 1808

The Rhode Island Historical Society yesterday displayed its amazing 1809 drop curtain, owned by the society since 1833 and depicting the town as it appeared in 1808, twenty years before the Providence Arcade was built in 1828. It is thought … Continue reading

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Why the folks hate the mods

Mark Lamster’s The Man in the Glass House continues to offer up examples of Philip Johnson’s dislikeability, many of which amount to reasons why people dislike modern architecture. The following passage comes after Lamster has described how Johnson struck out … Continue reading

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Lessons of the Berlin Wall

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many lessons have been learned, but this post will not, of course, comment on its geopolitical takeaways. Instead, and briefly, I hope a useful parallel can be drawn … Continue reading

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Johnson’s risky functionalism

Philip Johnson, the modernist architect who tricked America into embracing modern architecture, was a nasty piece of work according to Mark Lamster’s book, The Man in the Glass House. But there are some humorous passages whose inclusion reflects Lamster’s ability … Continue reading

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Philip Johnson’s MoMA flub

In his recently published biography of modernist architect and impresario Philip Johnson, Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster has found so much to dislike in the man that I have been thoroughly enchanted – so far. But I want … Continue reading

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