Downcity History: Chester Smolski + The Industrial Trust Building

0 Flares Filament.io 0 Flares ×

INDUSTRIAL TRUST TOWER: NINE VIEWS

In many cities of this nation, a building such as this would be looked upon as a community asset, one that needed to be restored and preserved, not as a museum, but as an alive and useful building with a vital link to the past. And it is well to note, as Wolf von Eckhardt of the Washington Post reminds us, “that the concept of recycling existing buildings works as well for mediocre 20th-century buildings as for glamorous Victorian mansions or colonial warehouses.”

In our capital city, unfortunately, the shortsighted and short term view taken of these buildings by their owners is one of “bottom line” profitability and very little else. (Smolski, 1979 June 5.)

Rhode Island College Professor Chester Smolski wrote these words in 1979. He was referring to the demolition of the Hoppin Homstead, a 19th century building in Downcity that was demolished to make room for a parking lot. But in 2016 he could have as easily been talking about the Industrial National Bank Building; the difference being that there is substantial owner support in the proposed development plans for Superman.

The Industrial National Bank Building, as it was originally known, was designed by established bank architects Walker and Gillette and completed in 1928. While its stepped-back form was the result of New York City zoning laws to allow adequate light and air for adjacent building, in Providence this was unnecessary. Instead, as the tallest building in New England (at the time), the Industrial National Bank Building changed the Providence skyline with its sculptural Art Deco style and gave little Providence a big city bravado.

This gallery highlights nine views of the Industrial National Bank Building and downtown Providence spanning from 1964 thru 1994.

View from the Port of Providence, 1969

View from the Port of Providence, 1969

East Facing Aerial from 1975

East Facing Aerial from 1975

photographer: Joseph Costa

Fox Point Aerial from 1976

 

 

 

New York Photo Diary

View from the Point Street Bridge, 1983

Bob Elam (head + shoulders); CHamber Singers; Ken Binder (admission officer); student painting

View from the Biltmore Hotel, 1994

 

 

 

Bob Elam (head + shoulders); CHamber Singers; Ken Binder (admission officer); student painting

South Facing Aerial from 1983

 

prospectpark_83

View from Prospect Park, 1983

 

Bob Elam (head + shoulders); CHamber Singers; Ken Binder (admission officer); student painting

View from the Highway, 1989

 

Bob Elam (head + shoulders); CHamber Singers; Ken Binder (admission officer); student painting

East Facing Aerial from 1985

Professor Smolski was a geography professor who traveled the world photographing examples of urban renewal, city planning, historic architecture, and public spaces. He was a also a vocal advocate for Providence and urban life at a time when Providence was rapidly deteriorating and populations were flocking to the suburbs. Throughout his life he wrote hundreds of op-ed pieces for the Providence Journal, many about the unique character of Downtown Providence and the importance of preserving it’s architecture. In 2009 the Smolski family donated the late professors entire slide film collection and writing to Rhode Island College Special Collections. 

This series is in collaboration with Digital Initiatives at the Adams Library, part of RIC. Andy Davis, Digital Initiatives Staff, created this article and gallery from their collection. 

For a full list of sources, please visit their website

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Pin It Share 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×

All content is produced by InDowncity on behalf of the InDowncity members of Downcity Providence