Tearing down ‘Superman’ building is wrongheaded thinking

To the Editor:

In Providence Business News’ June 7 article, “It will take investment to save ‘Superman’ tower,” Rep. Blake Filippi, R-New Shoreham, suggested the building be torn down and used as breakwater or “something useful.” We don’t think Mr. Filippi was around in the 1950s, but this same wrongheaded thinking was.

On Aug. 27, 1956, the Newport City Council was informed that the U.S. Navy was planning to tear down Fort Adams and use the stone and brick of the old fort to build a 2,500-foot breakwater at Coddington Cove. [A copy of this letter is in the Newport Historical Society library.] Thanks to public outcry, led by the Preservation Society of Newport County, the fort was saved from destruction and today is one of Rhode Island’s most active and beloved sites, generating tens of millions of dollars in economic impact annually. Thanks to leadership at all levels, this invaluable piece of Rhode Island’s heritage was saved.

All Rhode Islanders should support giving the Industrial Trust building a new life. Beyond our core mission to preserve architectural heritage, the Providence Preservation Society also works with groups across the country to demonstrate to policymakers and building owners that demolition and construction are leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

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Let’s work together to come up with a solution that preserves the “Superman” building so that it doesn’t have to serve as a breakwater, either in the bay or in its current location. n

Brent Runyon
Providence Preservation Society executive director