'Funeral' held for Fogarty Building in downtown Providence

The Fogarty Building in downtown Providence received a funeral on Friday, March 17, 2017. (WJAR)

Some buildings just fade away, while others go out with a bang.

The Fogarty Building in downtown Providence received a funeral on Friday.

“It was 49 years old and was the beloved child of the Rhode Island architecture firm Castelluci, Galli, and Planka Associates,” intoned Marissa Brown at a sidewalk ceremony across from the crumbled concrete of the nearly demolished building.

The ceremony was put together to mark the demise of the city’s best example of the Brutalist-style of architecture that was popular in the late 1960s, and is evident still at the CCRI campus in Warwick, or the UMass Dartmouth campus.

But no longer in downtown Providence.

“This building played a significant role in our cityscapein our city, for nearly 50 years,” Caroline Stevens of Doors Open Rhode Island, a group that is highlighting the architectural assets of Providence, said. “Some people really love this building. Others have strong opinions against it.”

Stevens hopes the ceremony will spur conversations about the city’s buildings. She noted that Providence is famous for its preservation of 19th century structures, but feels the city needs to be more than just a time capsule.

“Part of being a world class city is having buildings from every era,” she said.

The demolition and site preparation work will take about six weeks, according to Ralph Izzi of the Procaccianti group, which is building a hotel there.

“We hope those gathering today will find opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate how investments like the new Residence Inn Hotel will advance our state for future generations, just like the Fogarty Building did some 60 years ago,” Izzi said in a statement about the ceremony.

The new hotel, which will be located at 100 Sabin St. and house 176 rooms and 150 parking spaces, should be completed by late 2018.

Of course, the most famous landmark building in Providence is 111 Westminster, known as the Superman Building. Architectural historian Marissa Brown said there might soon be a ceremony there, but not a funeral.

“I wonder whether we might stage, not a funeral service because it’s not dead, but is it dying?” Brown said. “Is it on its way to Hospice?”

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