Bulldozer Needed

This is the Fountain of Life located in Cathedral Square and a more perfect symbol of the so-called pro-life movement would be hard to imagine. (Build fountain . . . walk away.) Water has not flowed through this structure in decades; trash and weeds now fill the gutters. Bricks are crumbling and the metal fittings have fallen off and lie about.

In the late 1960s, the City of Providence hired up-and-coming architect I. M. Pei to redesign Cathedral Square as part of a larger plan to redesign downtown. (Pei died just this last year at the age of 102.) His new Cathedral Square was unveiled in 1972. I can find no specific mention of the fountain’s construction which leads me to believe it was part of the original plan. Here is a photograph of the fountain in 1974.

Seven years ago the Providence Journal covered renovations taking place inside the cathedral.

As for Cathedral Square itself, Monsignor Mancini said many people have observed that the tiled piazza, with the stairs that are part of it, have suffered major deterioration in recent years, and the fountain has not gushed water for years.

But responsibility for the square belongs to the city, he said.

Mayor Angel Taveras’ spokesman, David Ortiz, said the city’s downtown neighborhood plan is the same as it has been for years: to link the two ends of Westminster Street by having it run through Cathedral Square. Such a plan would require the city to buy and demolish the diocesan headquarters building that stands directly in the path.

This is on city property? I’m beginning to think that the fountain was originally just a fountain, but that some right-to-lifers just shoved the cheesy marker seen below into the pavement at a later date when no one was paying attention.

At any rate, there is nothing worth saving here and the idea of reconnecting the two ends of Westminster Street should be revived. That would be fantastic.

This, and a similar marker on the other side quoting Deuteronymy, are on city property.

The plaza is empty and desolate at all times. If this belongs to the city, we should take it back and develop it. Aren’t we leaving money on the table?

From the PPS 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture:

This is by far the most problematic of Providence’s open spaces.

Amen to that.

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