Grove Street School


Grove School will probably need to be completely demolished

The school has been badly damaged before Hurricane Irene even hit the state. The city initially wanted to grant the building a demolition permit due to safety concerns before the storm, but then decided to secure the building instead. The owners decided to use this moment of uncertainty to start demolition again, which was later halted by police. The sad truth remains that more of the structure has been damaged, and an argument to tear it down completely at this point has been made stronger. Recent News: (Aug 29, 2011), (ongoing)

Grove Street School Still Standing (April 11)

Another week, another ruling in the fate of the historic Grove Street school in Providence. Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini delayed his order that the 100-year-old building be demolished in order to give the city time to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court. The Providence Journal reports the city has until Friday to file that appeal.

Judge grants the right to demolish

Full Projo Story

April 10 | Providence Journal by Daniel Barbarisi

A Superior Court judge has ordered that the historic, partially-demolished Grove Street School be knocked down because it is a threat to public safety, even while acknowledging that the building’s owners violated the law when they tried to destroy the vacant schoolhouse without a valid building permit.

The Tarro family, owners of the schoolhouse, sought to raze the building in February of 2007 to create more parking for their funeral home, but were stopped by the city, which took the family to court seeking fines and the reconstruction of the building.

Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini issued a bench decision this morning ordering the Tarro Family to obtain a building permit and demolish the 100-year-old building.

“This court has determined that the Grove Street School building poses a substantial threat to public safety and should be demolished immediately,” Procaccini said.

At the same time, Procaccini said that the “Tarro’s commencement of demolition without a permit was unlawful,” and fined the family $4,868.98, the cost of police details to oversee the site and the fines accrued over six days worth of building code violations.


The Tarros starting taking the school down without permission from the city. A Stop Work order was issued and a cop is stationed outside the school making sure no more damamge is done. As you can see in the photos though, the structural damage may be inescapable.

The real problem is that we don’t have any legislation with real teeth if the owner decided to circumvent any local ordinances and tear it down when no one was looking (sound familiar?)

WBNA board members and staff at Grove Street School on Saturday to halt demolition

February 5, 2007

Providence--Last Monday, 2/29, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) responded to complaints from neighbors of the Grove Street School that workers onsite claimed that the building was going to be demolished. The WBNA sent out an email alert to all of its members and citywide contacts urging them to contact the Mayor. In response to numerous phone calls and emails the City issued a Stop Work Order for the building and attached it to the front door of the school.

Kari Lang, Executive Director of the WBNA, said that she was beginning a tour of the neighborhood with board members as part of the annual board retreat on Saturday, February 3rd. “The tour came to an abrupt stop when a neighbor drove up and announced that the Grove Street School was being demolished.” Board members immediately called the police, city officials and local news stations. “Fortunately, we were nearby the school on our tour and were able to get there in advance of police. We were stunned and dismayed to see the bulldozer was striking the building when we arrived. We told the demolition contractor to stop and after several minutes they did so,” explained Lang. Police, city officials and the Mayor arrived on the scene and confirmed that the contractor was doing work without a demolition permit and against the City’s Stop Work Order. WBNA board members, staff, and other concerned neighbors remained at the school until the demolition crew left and 24-hour police detail set up post to ensure that no further destruction of the building took place.

“The community came together in response to the threat to a treasured historic school building. Their action and the City’s prompt response we hope will change this devastating blow into a preservation victory,” said WBNA board member and neighbor of the Grove Street School, Anne Tait.

On Monday, February 05, the Rhode Island Superior Court issued an Order Granting The City’s Emergency Motion For Injunctive Relief which states that no further demolition or alteration may be made to the Grove Street School. Additionally, the WBNA has been informed by city officials that they are looking at various actions to protect the building, including a Providence Redevelopment Agency meeting on Thursday, February 8th at 4pm at the Department of Planning and Development, 400 Westminster Street, 4th floor to hear plans for the acquisition of the Grove Street School from the current property owners.

The WBNA organizes neighbors and businesses on the West Side of Providence to preserve and protect our diverse, historic, urban community as a safe, vibrant, and sustainable place to live, work, and play.


Built at the turn of the twentieth century, the schoolhouse rises two stories and is topped by a hipped roof and a massive brick chimney. The T-shaped structure is articulated by brick quoins on the corners and modillion blocks at the cornice. Pedestrian entrances are housed within recessed, arched openings located in two-story, hip-roof wings flanking the central block. The arched openings feature brick corbeling and keystones. The building stands on a granite foundation and features a watertable at the raised basement level. Fenestration consists of rectangular window openings with several round-arch openings with granite sills; windows have been boarded up. The property is surrounded by a chain link fence with a small paved parking area.

The Grove Street Elementary School was constructed as a public grammar school during a period of massive immigration. The building first appears on the 1908 Sanborn map and is identified as a “school.” Subsequent maps show that the building has retained its original size and shape over its 100-year existence. The building is currently privately owned.

Sherrie Butts Dec 6 2017 I went to this school from 1968-1970 when I lived on Bernen st which was right behind the school. I have no idea what made me even look this up today but I'm glad that I did now so that I could just say that this school is obviously near and dear to me as I now live in West Virginia and don't get to visit often. I'm now almost 55 yrs old and still remember my 1st grade teachers name was Mrs Mactaz, she was so good to me as my parents were going through a divorce at that time and she treated me like I was her own child. I truly hope that there is some way to make repairs on this beautiful old building, instead of tearing it down. (Ed.: Sorry Sherrie, it was torn down in 2012)

Al May 11 2017 This looks very similar to the old Manton Avenue school on the corner of Fruit Hill and Manton Avenue. It was sad to see it go, but these buildings, when not in use, are just dangerous. Between drug squatters, people who steal the copper inside and vandals they just aren’t redeemable once they fall into decay. It’s sad. The Manton Ave school was there since 1890.

jen coleslaw Jan 4 2013 Probably time to move this over to RIP as it was demo-ed over a year ago.

Daniel Sept 21 2010 I’ve changed my mind. A year or so ago I wrote that the school should be a school again. It’s not going to happen; the thing’s been half-demolished for 2+ years. Besides which, other school buildings stand vacant in the neighborhood (Holy Ghost, West Broadway Elementary). The BEST thing that could happen at this point would be for the demo to continue and the property be turned into a park. The neighborhood could use it, that’s for sure. I just bought a house (to move into) a block away and my biggest concern is safe greenspace for my kids.

Jake Sept 19 2010 I used to rent the third floor apartment directly across from the school, 94 Grove st. I lived there for about a year, I left about 2months ago to live on broadway, and never have I seen anybody going in, nor have I seen rats, the only thing I did see is that people were using it as a dumpyard, I recently went to the rally for it, and learned that there are investors that want to buy it, and they have a grant for 1.4 million dollars to fix it up. If it were anyone else that tried to domolish it, we’d be in big trouble if we pulled a stunt like he did.

Roger W. June 29 2010 Beverly, you may have USED to live on Ring Street, but I actually still live less than half a block from the Grove Street school, it’s still a hotspot for rats and baseheads. Whoever said that the police are watching this place “24 hours a day” doesn’t live around here, because the cops cruise through maybe three or four times a day, tops. Living that close to a combination rat factory, crackhouse and public toilet is a definite drag. I hope the city fines the Tarros for trying to weasel around the permit requirements, and then has someone tear this shit down before it gets even nastier.

Beverly April 24 2010 Used to live a block from this place (on Ring Street). I never noticed any of the suppossed crackheads or potential “rappists” that some alarmists seem to live in fear of. Gosh, I had crackheads re-siding the place I lived, but they weren’t living in the school. There should be a revision of how long buildings can sit vacant... to prevent people from buying them, encouraging them to rot beyond belief, then knocking them down w/o any real reason. That funeral home already has a TON of parking, and there is plenty of space on the side streets & Broadway. Our view from our back window was parking lots straight to Broadway. Parking lots do nothing for the character of a neighborhood... but then again, neither do funeral homes.

Sue April 10 2010 JUSTICE IS SERVED... the school is coming down. Finally, an authority figure had the nerve to stand up to the City of Providence and their picking and choosing what gets demolished and what does not... regardless of the “historical” value of the property or the political connections. Way to go Judge Procacini! Richard, Carol, Greg and Stephen... hope you are smiling!

David I would like all of you who think of this school as such a great haven to take a second and think of the following; This building has sat unattended to for nearly 30 years!! Think about it, the floors are ready to give way, and the building is much to small to create any type of income. I would like to speak for the people who really care about the children, and the health and safty risks this building poses to the public. What if kids are in there palying arround and the floors let go!! What if a girl is rapped in this vacent building!! What abouit drug deals, and drug user!!! there are many signs of drug usage in this building. If this building has done nothing for 30 years than take it down before it takes someones life. To me life is gretaer than this old piece of shit building!!

Carla I have known the Tarro Family since I was a little girl, and it disgusts me to hear such negative things about the family. they are hard workers, and want the best for the future generation to come I am saddened about the deaths of the youngest siblings. I feel that all of the negativity from the community regarding the school caused all of these problems for the family to the point where a brother is no longer with us (Solely my opinion). The stress must have been so much for Stephen Tarro that he had no other out. Who cares about the old school. I remember living in Rhode island with one of the sisters and visiting the funeral home and looking across to parking lot to find homeless people and crack heads breaking the windows to climb in. Let\'s talk about what is ok! Do you really want that in your neighborhood? All they wanted was a parking lot so that they could move on with their lives and be able to accommodate your family and friends when a loved one passed away. Do tell the real reason why this has all happened!! Pure envy. Everyone in Rhode Island is to preoccupied dabbling in everyones business instead of trying to make the world a better place and helping your fellow man. let the Tarros do what they need to do. They have been through enough. Now go on your way and leave them alone and Oh, mind your own businesses. I blame the people of Providence for all of the demons that surround the Tarros.

martin austin hi, i hope they save the school, im from the uk and these developers are scum, our history is being destroyed, its not green, its not moral, and its not environmentaly friendly

Daniel I am personally a little bothered that the only factors in favor of preservation are (1) it’s a lovely building and (2) it could be turned into condos. I agree that it’s a lovely building, and my stomach twists to think what might be put in its place. And I guess it could be profitably turned into condos, if the economy heats up or Federal Hill becomes the “it” neighborhood in Providence. But personally, I’d like to see it become a school again. I moved from Boston, where I taught in a school that combined racial and socioeconomic diversity with academic rigor. Providence’s schools are not serving Providence’s kids. I can’t think of a lovelier facility or more central location than this! As much as those of us who react viscerally to improvement-by-demolition hate it, empty schools can’t last too long. Bring the kids back to Federal Hill, and to Grove Street School.

Calvin Tawney For goodness sakes, let them tear this old heap of bricks down. I grew up in this neighborhood in the 1950s. It’s a bygone era. Just let it go. It’s time to renew.

mary becker my father was the principal there from the 1950’s until it closed.

James Now that we know what everyones feelings are about this property, does anyone know if there are toxic levels of asbestos or other contaminants) being released in our neighborhood by the un-encapsulated state of the building?

Trish To Raymond and all other posters who don’t know what they are talking about should take a hard look at the facts before posting. There is no Theresa Tarro. And the Tarros do live in the neighborhood. Susan, I cannot agree with you more on the late Mrs. Carol Tarro and late Mr. Richard Tarro – they both offered so much to the community. And the fact that people are calling them jerks is unbelievable. The school, yes is historic, but it has been sitting there vacant for decades and is an eyesore. It’s only occupants are punks and rats. Stating your opinions about saving a historic building is one thing but attacking a good name is just unexcusable. I agree with Susan. Keep the personal attacks out! I hope all of you are happy with in what this awful situation has resulted. Read the paper!

Zaidee I live right down the street from the school and was shocked one morning to bike by and see a huge chunk ripped out of it. I went back a couple days ago to take some pictures of it while it was snowing. It’s so sad we are losing more and more of the beautiful architecture that to me helps makes this city what it is.

Sophie I live around the corner from this beautiful school building. It’s a crying shame to see such a beautiful building destroyed, especially at a time when so many people are working to breathe new life into this city by restoring it’s historic architecture. The building had a lot of potential – as a family home, as a multi-family condo unit, as a community centre, or as an art space. By illegally and irreparably destroying such a gem, the Tarros have hurt west broadway and the city of Providence. Until Providence manages to put some teeth in its laws, we will be hostage to this sort of thuggery and profiteering.
   Incidently, the demolition job at Grove street was carried out by the same Johnston thugs who started demolishing the Pawtucket/Central falls Railway: Bilray Demolition. These people need to be stopped!

James I’ve just learned that this school had an unfortunate “surprise attack” of sorts. The owners, without a permit, started demolition and no doubt distroyed it before someone had the good sense to call the proper city hall reps to the site to stop work on the demo. I understand that this building has had a rather bad recent few years with all that “Roger W.” stated below but common sense should tell you that this building is NOT better leveled than rehabbed. If rehabbed properly, the property values around this location would go UP! While some regard this as tax trouble, others regard this as a good investment made better. I have seen these sorts of buildings razed for other plans and the result is always awful! The architect of today is not given the tools to make a building as beautifull as this. This is something that can ONLY be made prior to WWII. I have always said that if a building cannot be made again in the same style without a 9 figure grant, it shouldn’t be torn down! Historic scenery enhances a place. Why more people don’t understand this, is baffeling!? I understand the owners have a business nearby that requires more parking and that is why they want to erase this piece of history and fine example of a bygone era in architecture. Where I come from, we call that squandering and selfish. Pure and simple. Many years ago I tried in vein to do what I could to save the Manton and Fruithill Avenue school but was uncomfortabley way out of my league. It was demolished in 2002 and is now the site of a very unattractive 1 story building. Why anyone would want something like this to happen again is unimaginable. We as a city need to support groups like the preservation society so that landowners like this do not destroy our beautifull landscape one bad idea at a time. I beleive the penalty for this infraction of demo without proper permission is $500 a day. Is this a joke? I knew it would be low but what kind of arrogant land developer wouldn’t ignore this and rip into it if it may cost $500 a day? This is an outrage. The very first thing that should be done is to raise that amount to something that would be quite inconvenient. That cost wouldn’t deter even the poorest of developers. This website is invaluable and I want to thank the webmasters for making a difference in our landscape. If it weren’t for people like this, we’d be living in a very different kind of world.

Anne Tait The building was being demolished this morning even though there was a stop order on its demolition this week. The owners (the demo team) say they were requested to demolish it by Theresa(?) Tarro of Miami FL but no demolition permit was issued (the building inspector for the city came this morning as did the Mayor).
   It is being watched by the police 24 hours a day.
   It seems that the Tarros figure that now they have got what they want. The building is damaged so it can be condemned and then torn down. First neglect then damage then poof, they’ll have a nice parking lot. Somehow this doesn’t seem right that historic buildings and a city-owned former school can be put into the hands of these sleazy owners who screw the neighborhood from Florida and who don’t even live in the neighborhood they’re screwing. Not that this is a new event. Hey, paolini’s office is around the corner too.

Bill I recently moved just down the street from this school and have fantasized about buying it and renovating it since I first saw it. I did/do not know the Tarro’s and I assume that the children are the ones who have the funeral home and the newly renovated law office on Broadway. If that is so then I can understand why they would want it for parking and I can’t fault them for it, especially since I would not comment on people I have no personal interaction with. I recently (1/29/07) received an email that demolition is about to begin and that the pipes are being removed in anticipation of the demo. It is sad because I really would’ve loved to turn that into a unique home one day (the property value is under 200k and even 200k in renovations would still result in a beautiful and unique home under 400k in a great neighborhood). But, like I said I can’t fault them for wanting to increase the parking in the area since it is tough to come by and especially if they operate businesses on Broadway. But on the flipside, there are a handul of buildings I would love to see demo-ed and turned into parking before we knock down this gem.

Glenn I agree with Susan. Richard Tarro was a kind and gentle man, and all of his friends and family sorely miss him. My mother grew up with him on the Hill, and they remained friends for a lifetime. Yes, it would be a shame to lose the school to a parking lot, but let’s keep personal attacks out of this forum.

Corey Unfortunately, Susan, you seem to be the only person who approves of this family, or their actions, so frankly, I don’t think anybody believes you. I also think that Federal Hill’s “best interest” is a very subjective issue, and if you’re of the generation that insists on urban renewal, of course you’re going to be a proponent of 3 blocks of surface parking. Do yourself a favor, and take a trip to Savannah, GA, for a long weekend, and see what preservation can really do for us. I think everything should be done to save this place, and others like it. There’s a lot more to all this than just Victorian mansions and Brown University’s table scraps.

Larry Unfortunately the fate of this beautiful building follows a national pattern. Very many of my generation, the baby boomers, have forsaken their history and cultural heritage to pursue materialism and ego, and worship wealth. With that, wondeful historical structures like the Grove St. School will fall to the same effective underhanded tactics, which is to send the historic buildings into disrepair and even intentionally damage them to induce condemnation. The shallow disregard is made so very clear with the “eyesore” and “jealousy” comments from those who hold no value on their history and culture, and only see their own ego or personal gain as the main priority. I wish the best to those who have not forsaken community values and wish to preserve these structures. It is wise for all of us to hold our elected officials responsible in being proper guardians for these public properties. The Grove St. School, like many, was likely sold to pad public coffers and offset some red ink, but no regard for the fate of this historic structure was included in this sale. I fear these wealthy owners will likely win in this battle as they destroy this beautiful piece of history for their own gain. As the old saying goes, there are no rich people in heaven.

Susan I would personaly like to respond to “Raymond”. First of all, Richard Tarro was and is (as you are well aware, he is deceased) one of the most generous and kindness men that I ever knew, next to my own father. You obviously did not know this man who gave so much to the Federal Hill community, Holy Ghost Church, the elderly and pretty much any human being or four legged creature that came into contact with him. His selflessness stood out when he was alive and is still praised to this day by all that knew him. He loved this neighborhood as much as he loved his own family and friends. Mr. Tarro, as well as his own father was a State Representative for the area and had only Federal Hill’s best intersts at heart. He was a stand up guy that put his name to anything and everything that he believed in and his children are and will continue to do the same with their Family business and in their own lives. As for the “Tarro Boys”, obviously you do not know them either, because ALL the Tarro children, not just the boys, share the same generous, selflessness traits that both their parents passed on to them. I have always been told that jealousy is the root of all evil, and it could not be clearer that it centers your world. To try to deter a family business that has been in this area for well over 80 years from growing and developing with the rest of the Federal Hill area, is simply just JEALOUSY.

Raymond In the earlry 80’s my friends and I went into this school a couple if times. We were 12 or 13 at the time. It was a fallout shelter, as one of the pics still had the fallout sign on building, and in there they had red hard hats, excersize bikes in boxes, tins of crackers, and these cardboard tiolets. I don’t remember the layout that well but we made a makeshift clubhouse on the top floor. Put three of the tiolets and screens to block the view of the top from the bottom of the stairs. You used to be able to enter from the back of the building through a busted door and go through what I believe was the old cafe. The Tarros are jerks, always have been. The father if he is still alive was the biggest a-hole. It’s a shame to see them ruining the building to get it torn down. I hope the funeral place down the street puts them out of business. It is a shame they don’t make that some kind of club for the neighborhood kids.

Lou Fancy I don’t know if you’ve been inside the school recently but it looks like people have been pulling apart the stairwells to make them unsafe and piling things up at the bottom. One section of stairs has already been collaped. I’ve seen plenty of collapsed stairs before but what got me is the relatively good condition of the rest of the building. It took me about 2 seconds to realize that someone was collapsing the stairs on purpose.

Roger W. Thank God! I live around the corner from the school on Almy St., and in the past couple of years, it’ s been used as a crack house, had a series of small fires, and has, in general, been a total eyesore. Would it be better off as a school? Of course it would be, but since the police can’t be around 24 hours a day to keep people out of it, it will be better off as a parking lot than as it currently stands.

Peter I live right behind this building. It is beautiful, and a shame that no one in the city (ahem, to the owners) has used it in a productive way; e.g., rehabbed it into a community/rec center of sorts for the massive amounts of kids who live in this five square block area. The parking lots are no longer in use, and haven’t been as long as i’ve lived here, about a year now.

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