1915-2015: Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was an activist for equality and labor justice, working with her husband James Boggs in Detroit, and reached a global community with their campaign for workers' rights and understanding across racial and ethnic boundaries. Boggs…

1902-1948: Arshile Gorky

Arshile Gorky was a significant Surrealist painter and a father of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. He was a refugee from Armenia in 1919, where Turkish forces engaged in a mass genocide of the Armenian people. Gorky, originally…

1902: The Imperial Theatre

In 1800, Providence had about 7,000 people. By 1900, the city was bursting with over 175,000 and still growing. The downtown commercial district, once centered on a stretch of North Main Street by the Market House, now extended across the Providence…

1889: YMCA and YWCA

In 1889, the Young Men's Christian Association opened a grand new Romanesque Revival building on a prominent corner of Westminster Street in Cathedral Square. The building contained a gymnasium, auditorium, classrooms, libraries, parlors, and…

1878: English High School

In September 1878, a "magnificent" new high school was dedicated on Pond Street from plans made by prominent Providence architect William H. Walker. The old high school at Benefit and Waterman Streets had been overcrowded for years. The expansion of…

1869-1947: Eva Belle Clemence

Eva Belle Clemence lived and worked in Providence as an independent artist, a difficult space for a woman to find success in early 20th-Century America. Clemence was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1869, but her father Martin was from Rhode Island,…

1862: Perry Davis' Vegetable Pain-Killer

In the summer of 1840, Perry Davis was sick. Physically, debilitatingly sick. His businesses had failed, one after another. His family was living in penury. He had, however, an enterprising spirit and creative mind. He concocted a combination of…

1861: Benjamin Brayton Knight Mansion

Providence's population grew at an extraordinary rate throughout the 19th Century, from about 50,000 in 1850 to 175,000 in 1900, driven by the region's ever-expanding industrial complex. Providence was at the heart of New England's industrial…

1848-1929: Maritcha Lyons

Maritcha Lyons was an African-American teacher, writer, and activist who testified before the General Assembly as a 16-year-old girl to desegregate the Providence Public School System. In 1869, she was the first African-American to graduate from…

1842: Second Free Will Baptist Church

The Second Free Will Baptist Church (SFWBC) is one of the oldest Black congregations in Providence, formed around 1830 by a group who left the African Union Meeting House, itself formed from the departure of African-American congregants from the…

1838: Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul

During the early 19th Century, textile mills, like Grant Mill in the city of Providence, were being built across Rhode Island.  The textile industry required hands to work the many machines that produced the new wealth, and Providence’s population…

1836: High Street Congregational Church

While redevelopment often erases a city's past, the constant re-building of a city over time also leads to the loss of historical memory. One such site is 755 Westminster Street, a historic building from 1899, which replaced the High Street…

1830: Arnold-Palmer House

The redevelopment of Cathedral Square in the late 1960s left few traces of what this busy city intersection once was. One of those remaining traces is the Arnold-Palmer house, moved in 1967 through the prescient preservation efforts of the Beneficent…

1828: High Street Bank

In the early 19th century, the agricultural and mercantile economy of Providence was transformed by the Industrial Revolution in America, begun in nearby Pawtucket at Slater Mill. One essential ingredient for this transformation was capital. Money.…

1812 - 1864: Reverend Edward Scott

Reverend Edward Scott was a political activist and anti-slavery agitator who had, himself, escaped from slavery in Virginia before becoming a minister and community leader. Scott was born a slave in Virginia around 1812. He freed himself as well…

1710: The Plainfield Road

Colonial era roadways tell us something about the story of Providence. Over the course of the 17th century, the English village settlement on the banks of the Moshassuck and Providence Rivers grew, and other settlements were established on…

1638: The Pequot Trail

Right here in the heart of the city lies a trace of an ancient trailway used by the Indigenous Peoples who inhabited this region for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. This stop is located on a ridge of land looking east over the…

Melrose Park

The buses in the RIPTA parking lot on Melrose Street rest in orderly lines. Beside them, rows of cars glitter behind a chain link fence. This lot in South Providence used to echo with more than just the low rumble of engines-it was once the site of…

Providence Smallpox Hospital

Field's Point sits at the southeastern tip of Providence, jutting out into the Narragansett Bay. The shoreline is studded with broken reeds, stones, and sea-worn trash; seagulls and brants bob in the water. Worn foot paths lead wanderers through an…

Fuller Iron Works

The dirt and gravel parking lot at the corner of South Water Street and Tockwotton Street is modestly sized, giving little clue to the extensive iron foundry complex that once existed on the site. The Fuller Iron Works, founded in 1840, was a…

Dexter Asylum

Built in 1828, Dexter Asylum was a "poor farm," an institution housing the indigent, elderly, and chronically unemployed. Poor farms were common before the introduction of Social Security and welfare benefits in the United States, considered a…

Hope Reservoir

Like many parts of Providence, the athletic fields beside Hope High School are built on fill, but unlike buildings along the old waterfront or over marshy ponds, these fields are built over a former man-made reservoir that served an important role in…

Beulah Boyd's Beauty Parlor

At 43 Camp Street, passers-by see a school playground, shaded by a stand of pine trees and surrounded by a chain link fence. During recess, children's excited shouts reach the sidewalk. The adjoining playing field is flat and grassy, belying the fact…

Metcalf Estate

Wanskuck Park, a 25-acre park with walking trails, wooded areas, and old foundations, lies along the edge of the Wanskuck Historic District, in the northernmost part of Providence. Before it was parkland, this site was the estate of Jesse H. Metcalf…

Elmhurst Academy of the Sacred Heart

The large plot of land bordered by Smith Street, Wyndham Avenue, and Pleasant Valley Parkway has been built up heavily over the past 45 years, the rolling green lawns and forested glades replaced with siding-sheathed condominiums and a sprawling…

The Providence Cove

Prior to the 19th Century, hundreds of acres of water covered most of the area below the current Rhode Island State House--the Great Salt Cove,--which was large enough to admit sailing ships, and had a swath of salt marshes to its west. In the 1700s,…

La Salle Academy

The area between Broadway and Fountain Streets in La Salle Square--currently a large surface parking lot surrounded by a black, wrought-iron fence--has hosted not only the parked vehicles of Providence Bruins fans and suburban commuters, but also…

Eddy Estate

Franciscan Park, known to most as the Bell Street Dog Park, is a lively spot on a sunny day. Paths loop around the grassy expanse and dogs roam under shade trees or trot along a dirt track overlooking Route 6. This parcel of land was once the…

Silver Lake Basin

In the 18th century, Silver Lake was a quiet, rural area, part of the town of Johnston, with most residents living on farms. The character of the neighborhood changed significantly after the extension of the Plainfield Street trolley line in 1882;…