Preservation Magazine, Fall 2016

Transitions: Threatened—Southwest Pavilion

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Fall 2016.

photo by: Warren Jagger

The Southwest Pavilion is the last remaining building from the original Rhode Island Hospital complex.

The Southwest Pavilion at the Rhode Island Hospital complex in Providence was opened in 1900 as an addition to the main hospital building, which has since been demolished. The High Victorian Gothic polychrome structure, paid for almost entirely by community funds, was built to serve women and children, and housed the hospital’s first pathology lab.

In recent years, the building’s upkeep was deemed too expensive, and in 2015 the hospital’s parent company, the Lifespan Corporation, argued that their estimated cost of a restoration for hospital use ($26.5 million) would outweigh the cost of demolition (approximately $2.4 million, not including the cost of any potential new construction).

The Providence Preservation Society is advocating for the Southwest Pavilion’s adaptive reuse, and this summer, the city council passed a resolution urging the hospital to consider preserving it. But as of press time, the Providence City Planning Commission had given the hospital permission to obtain a demolition permit for the structure.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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