Video: Industrial Trust Bldg.

A train zooms through Providence, with the Industrial Trust building in the background. (YouTube)

Here is a video produced, apparently seven years ago, by Matthew Bird, a videographer who hails from the Rhode Island School of Design. For those of us who love the Industrial Trust Bank Building, including many who roll our eyes when it is referred to as the Superman Building (it is not), it is a fascinating look at the history of the building that has been the state’s tallest since its completion in 1928.

The video is excellent, witty and a joy to watch. Except, perhaps, for one thing.

I have a good friend who has studied the Industrial Trust very closely and who disagrees with Bird’s contention that the building was not erected to serve as a mooring station for airships. Noah believes it was. Airships were thought to be the future when the Industrial Trust was under construction in the mid-1920s. Charles Lindbergh did not cross the Atlantic until the year before its completion. Airships were at that time a genuine rival to commercial shipping for freight and passengers. Of course, all that ended with the Hindenberg zeppelin disaster in 1937, nine years after the ITBB opened in 1928. Jump forward to recent years. The upper stories of the building were redesigned within the past two decades, I believe. My friend Noah Schwartz says the upper stories featured interior design that reflected the interiors of a commercial airship, the British airship B-1, but no longer. He says the Industrial Trust has other structural and mechanical features of any building contemplating a role as an airship docking station. But this is very difficult to confirm with the building now being renovated as apartments.

You can read Noah’s rebuttal to Matthew Bird’s comments, from the video he made, about the docking station issue at the end of the comments section at the site inhabited by the YouTube video.

Whatever the truth of the legend of airship moorings atop the building, I hope that its current renovation goes forward and that the Industrial Trust – which has been empty since 2013 – will come to life again and bring more life to downtown Providence.

Ad from a takeout section of the Providence Journal in 1928. Another ad is just below. (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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5 Responses to Video: Industrial Trust Bldg.

  1. Christopher Bleyer says:

    If I had to live or work in a skyscraper, the IndustrialTrust Building would be the one because these skyscrapers ,at the time ,were built extra strong. The classic example of this is the case of a B-25 bomber hitting the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. The building was open for business two days later. When, eventually they do finally come out with flying cars, I do admit it would be fun and convenient to just fly into my unit.


  2. Pingback: Video: Industrial Belief Bldg. | Structure Right here and There – Knowledge of world

  3. Ray Rickman says:

    THANK YOU. This is grand!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Delightful read – how can we not give this building a respectful future?


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