Updated March 25 at 6:25am

Free Superman building tours scheduled, ‘sold’ out in 2 hours

Those interested in seeing the inside of the closed “Superman” building at 111 Westminster St. will have to wait their turn. Two hours after letting the public know about the complimentary tours, scheduled for five dates between this weekend and Sept. 24, the events are now completely booked.

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Free Superman building tours scheduled, ‘sold’ out in 2 hours

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PROVIDENCE – Those interested in seeing the inside of the closed “Superman” building at 111 Westminster St. will have to wait their turn. Two hours after letting the public know about the complimentary tours, scheduled for five dates between this weekend and Sept. 24, the events are now completely booked.

According to a press release from the building’s owner, David Sweetser of High Rock Development, the building, formerly known as the Industrial Trust bank building, but nicknamed “Superman” due to its resemblance of the iconic structure in the comic books and old television show, will be open for free tours July 23, Aug. 11 and 20, and Sept. 10 and 24.

The public tours will be led by Providence Preservation Society members. High Rock is working with the society to schedule other dates, according to a spokesman.

“I want Rhode Islanders to have access to the tallest building in the state. I want them to enjoy the views, which are one-of-a-kind in Rhode Island, and I want them to have an opportunity to appreciate the architecture and history associated with the building,” Sweetser, principal of High Rock Development, said in a statement. “We appreciate the Providence Preservation Society lending their expertise to these tours.”

The initial tour schedule includes the following dates:

  • Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. Participants will be able to view the lighting of WaterFire at sunset.

  • Thursday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. Participants can watch the original Superman movie, which starts at Grant’s Block at 7:30 p.m. after the tour.

  • Saturday, Aug. 20 at 6:45 p.m. Participants will be able to view the lighting of WaterFire at sunset.

  • Saturday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.

  • Saturday, Sept. 24 at 5:45 p.m. Participants are encouraged to attend the DesignXRI, block party on Westminster Street following the tour.

Tours will last approximately an hour and a half. Each tour will begin with a short video presentation; participants will then view the vault, banking hall and the 25th floor, for views of the city.

Said Providence Preservation Society Tour Leader Barbara Barnes, “Every square inch of this building, inside and out, reflects the story of Providence. Friezes on every facade from Kennedy Plaza to Westminster Street tell how Providence was founded and how it grew to be a center of commerce, transportation and industry. Medallions high above the tellers’ stations in the banking hall contain silhouettes of those who shaped and guided the city to greatness and prominence such as Roger Williams, Stephen Hopkins, Gilbert Stuart and more.”

Brent Runyon, Providence Preservation Society executive director, said the art deco skyscraper “represents the strength and success of Providence and offers an optimistic blueprint for the future.”

Barnes and Runyon will lead the tours, as well as Beverly Pettine and Lucie Searle of the Providence Preservation Society. Other guides will be announced later in the season. Each tour will be limited to 40 participants. They will be given a free T-shirt and a pair of binoculars.

The tours are the latest effort by the building owner to spark interest in the iconic building.

In May, business and community leaders came together for a news conference to drum up support for redevelopment of the building, vacant since 2013 when Bank of America Corp. left the space.

The effort to save the building also has spawned a website, savesupermanri.com, and the Twitter account, SaveSuperman, both operated by building owner High Rock.

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