Most Endangered Properties List — Nominations Wanted

The Providence Preservation Society is seeking nominations for the next Most Endangered Properties List and this year they are expanding the category.

For decades, our annual list has advocated for buildings at risk due to neglect, threat of demolition, or critical underuse. However, PPS wants to take it to the next level. Providence is also composed of beautiful streetscapes, landscapes, unique communities and histories, and intangible heritage.

Seen here is the Asa Messer Elementary School at 158 Messer Street from the 2023 MEP List, its fourth time on the list. This is so doable! Former school buildings have often been converted into residential properties, and the West End is a desirable neighborhood.

The spectacular brickwork and chimneys of this c.1890 gem caught the eye of local Lego artist, Andrew Grover, who built a model of this particular school for PVDFest in 2018. Art inc profiled Grover last November. (He also created the model of the Providence Public Library on display now.)

The threat to the Messer School is currently described as “Vacancy, Lack of Maintenance . . . There have also been reports of squatting, which becomes a riskier and potentially fatal situation the longer the building’s maintenance goes unaddressed.” That is a recipe for disaster. The school department needs to act.

If the district does not plan to fully use or maintain the building, it would be in the best interest of the district and the building that it be deemed released for a developer to restore and adapt to another use. As a contributing building to a historic district, there are several incentives for the rehabilitation of buildings at the federal and state level via loans and tax credits. With the right stakeholders and plan in place, this building could see new life.

Go here for nomination form.

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Look at this brickwork!

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