The story goes that this was a failed urban housing project, at least according to the city, who tore it down. But the structure was so strong and solid, that implosion (dynamite) did nothing but destroy the ground floor, hence the tilt in some of the first photos. They then had to take it down with a wrecking ball, which is illustrated in photos 6-9.
A visitor emailed us and let us know that the building stood directly across from the Perry Middle School on Hartford Avenue.
Thanks to Gemma for the photos.
Pete F. Mar 2 2016 The story I heard at the time of the failed demolition (it might have been in the Providence Journal) was that the building was designed to survive a low-level fission bomb explosion. Yeah, right. It certainly survived Bil-Ray’s implosion attempt. My wife and I were home that morning (a Sunday?) watching the process on our TV set, turned to one of the Providence stations. We clearly saw the boom on screen, and heard the sound of the explosion from the TV speaker, Several seconds later, we heard the actual explosion and felt the house shake just a little. I guess the miracle of television sent us video and audio at the speed of light. A little later, the speed of true sound came through.
Ernie Hanson Nov 6 2015 This is in response to Rochelle A’s inquiry. Rochelle that school was called Merino School and it was on Glenbridge Av. I and two of my siblings also attended Merino in the late 50s/early 60s
Rochelle A Jan 15 2015 I was a toddler in the highrise at 22. Whelan in the late 50’s and then moved to the low-rise building at 14 Whelan. We moved away from Providence in the early 60’s so my memories are pretty vague. I remember my nemesis from next door (yes – I remember her name – but won’t include it here) and my best buddy from the building behind. Walking with Mom to the shops in Olneyville for fruits and day-old cookies and bread; Mom being stressed from the poverty and violence. I’ve been trying to remember the schools I went to – took a bus to kindergarten but walked to a 4-room schoolhouse for first and second grade. Does anyone have knowledge of what/where that school would have been? My recollection of it is of wood construction, but I could be mistaken. Definitely two-story, two classrooms on each level, only first and second grades there.
Michelle Feb 6 2013 I remember in the late 1980s, I would take the school bus home and the Hartford projects were part of the bus route. However, us kids on the bus were scared to enter the projects because the bus would get pelted with stones, bricks, and bottles for no reason. The kids in the neighborhood found it funny I guess. Yet, us on the bus had to duck and cover our heads due to the broken glass from the windows. Thank god no one got hurt, yet those were the times I think about whenever I drive by the area. Memories...
Tom Smith Nov 15 2012 I lived there from age 0 to age 19. I knew when I was very young I would never return once I left. I hung out with Charlie Traylor, Tom Evans, Tracy Walton, Steve Rivera, Alan Smith, The Benfords, The Dugans, Phil Martin, All the kids across Bodell Ave. The Hanleys, Keith Smith, The Giblins, and a hundred more. You never had to worry about finding someone to hang with or some trouble to get into. I remember all of it but seldom think about it. My most vivid memory is my brother’s friends mother getting shot several times across from the big building on Bodell. I remember sitting on the cellar hand rails looking at the blanket with the body under it. Jerry Bicksel saw it all go down. I don’t even want to go back to visit...
tom stewart Aug 12 2012 grew up on bodell ave. went to perry then lasalle. left projects in 1966 when i joined the usaf. remember the garrahans-casile-deals-bobo-caffertys-champions-simpsons-flynns-maderios. worked at the purity-jacks diner hung out at the phone booth on hartford ave. can’t forget gardy and jack kanzczet. now live in va. retired from usairways after 35 yrs and work for local public school as security.
Susan Mar 16 2012 I grew up a few streets away from the Hartford Projects and had many friends that lived there – the Hansons, the Giblins, the Deals, the Baccaris,the Hanleys, the Dragons. Went to Merino, Laurel Hill & Perry schools. We were just as poor as the people who lived in the projects. The neighborhood was great back then, stores like Dedora’s, Lane’s, Monda’s Bakery, Prescription World. Always hanging out in Merino Park in the summer or the field next to Lincoln Lace & Braid where a lot of my family worked. I hated when the RWU students lived in this building, they were always trying to lure my friends and I inside when we were way too young for that.
David Ouimet Nov 26 2011 I lived in hartford park from 1954 to 2001 at 268.
Ernie Hanson Jan 27 2011 I moved into 22 Whelan Road as an infant and began my life in 1955 as one of two kids. From there our growing family moved to 1 Whelan Rd Apt E until I was about 10. From there we moved to 4 Whelan Rd Apt E. By then there were 5 kids in the family. I remember Billy Donnelly and all the things he mentioned above of course! Billy was a CPO before he joined the PPD. I remember when the Roger WIlliams College Students came when I was about 13 and set up in 2 Whelan (375 Hartford) to study us in our environment... and most of them were kind and did alot for us. Larry DiPetrillo, Dennis Dobbyn and his sister Phyllis, Calvin Drayton, Carolyn, Ed Skahill, Billy Eggers, Chuck DeVecchio, Fred Hibberd and many more.
As for fellow “inmates” I remember The Irwins, Gomes, Parkers, Moores, Martinos, Irons, Lavallees, Rileys, Peckhams, Salisburys, DeSanos, Malletts, Lazeaus, Espositos, Perrys, DiSimones, Cravens, Cadys, Cabanas, Champlins, Deals, Giblins, Hanleys, Ealeys, Malos, Dragons, Bennets, Gadagnos, Skip Fenner, Mikey Royales, The Adamonas brothers, Linstroms, Meyers, Chico Monez, Bertie Souza, Albert Sliney, Michael O’Rourke, The Dougans, Obriens, Hazards, Smiths, and so many more if I really push my memory because I was there for so long... probably until around 1974 when the family finally moved.
I can’t say my memories were all that great. We all witnessed some strange and occasionally brutal things growing up inside and outside our apartments. We learned a lifestyle that was best forgotten as adults I guess. What can I say?
jake northup May 18 2010 I was born n raised in the projects in 1984. My mother n her mom lived here in the 70s. We moved out the summer of 89 do to construction. Moved back in 94 after they finished rebuilding. These are memorys to me Being A Native Indian Descent In this country. Mr. Ds, The Fruit Stand, Lanes, Nelson Market, Recreation Center, Olneyville Boys & Girls Club ext. To me It was a good envirment to live. Merino Park a place to play as a kid, The bridge seperated Hartford & Manton projects n it still does today
ELIZABETH GUADAGNO-ROYLES! Nov 5 2009 I LIVED THERE IN THE 70’S ! 282 HARTFORD AVE APARTMENT C! MY MOTHER PASSED AWAY IN 1978 WHILE LIVING THERE ! SHE AND HER BROTHERS LIVED THERE GROWING UP. SHE MET MY FATHER THERE! I REMEMVER MR.HINES HE DID NOT LET US PLAT ON THE GRASS HE WAS A GOOD MANAGER THERE. WE PLAYED ANYWAY! PEOPLE TALKED DOWN ABOUT THIS PLACE BUT SOME OF THE BEST PEOPLE CAME FROM HERE EVEN HEREO’S ! I REMEBER MR.D’S LANES AND ACROSS FROM OUR APARTMENT WAS AN AUTO PLACE WERE MY MOTHER SAVED A MANS LIFE WHO CAUGHT ON FIRE WHILE WORKING ON A CAR! IREMEBER PERRY SCHOO, CORVESES FRUIT STAND, TOMMY’S GAS STATION, THE BOYS CLUB, THE NICKERSON HOUSE, STAR MARKET, ALMACS, THE PUBLIC POOL, ZAYERS, AIMES, ST. ANTHONYS CHURCH,GUIDOS,AND THREE RING LIQUORS! MY PARENTS WERE ANN MARIE GUADAGNO AND MIKE ROYLES. MY UNCLES WERE GEROGE AND TOM GUADAGNO AND MY AUNTS WERE NORMA KATHY AND PAT ROYLES. MY GRANDMOTHER WAS ARLINE GUADAGNO! I REMEBER THE PERRYS THE GIBLING THE BENFORDS THE ONEILLS THE BELUSIOS (MAYBE MISSPELLED) THE MCCORMICKS THE FRIES THE NEALSONS THE JOHNSONS THE KELVYS AND SO MANY MORE ! HARTFORD PROJECTS WAS NOT AS BAD AS THEY MADE IT SEEM ! NOT AT ALL WELL EXCEPT FOR THE ROACHES !LOL !
smiley=] Oct 19 2009 i u to live in hardford but in whelan street but when im looking at this picz this is horibble but i didnt saw this happen what date did it happen....thx
Barbara Mar 4 2009 I lived a few streets away for many years, and remember sending my young daughter to Lanes to buy milk or bread. This neighborhood was so safe then... I came back years later on the day this building was being demolished, and like so many others, was so excited to wait and see it go down all at once. Well, we were shocked and waited and waited, thinking more explosions were coming, but no dice. I took many pictures and we talked about this event for many years... Now it is just a bare spot. Nice memories tho.
pat s Aug 24 2008 Before I moved into Cranston and spent most of my summer (circa 1990) in the old Narragansett Brewery, I lived my first 13 yrs growing up off Hartford Ave in Providence. I remember very much of that morning. Waiting by Lanes Grocery Store; the sound of the explosion; the dropping of the concrete edifice. I ran fearing debris and dust would violently envelop us ( mother and sister ). To my surprise, looking over my shoulder, the structure’s descent had ceased. And as the pictures show, each week, little by little, the complex disappeared via the wrecking ball. Regrets?: Not buying the souvenir T-shirts Lanes sold, depicting the demolition, similar to the first pic!!!
Mike Rebello July 31 2008 I lived on the other side of the Merino park bridge. The bridge was a divider between Hartford and Manton projects. I remember being home when the building was blown up the blast was so strong that it shook my whole house and our window fell. I had to live at least a few miles away. The building was so strong it could of lasted another 100 years. The other high-rise is still standing... go figure.
joshua June 15 2008 i am glad they did that because if it wasnt 4 them ma hood hartford projects would not be wha tit is now.
Barry Mar 02, 2008 My grandmother lived in one of “the big buildings” in the Hartford Projects during the 70’s. My family lived about one hundred yards from her in one of the ”brown“ buildings. As a child I spent alot of time with her as she grew older. Initially, you could just walk into the building and either climb the stairs to infinity or push a button and take the elevator. The whole building was made of rebarb enforced concrete. Every two apartments shared a 6’ x 12’ concrete porch with a green corragated plastic sheet which covered the chain link fence to ensure privacy from those below. My grandmother used to like to sun bathe on her lawn chair with her iced coffee by her side. Her apartment (also concrete throughout) was always styling. You would never smell moth balls when you walked into her pad! She always had the latest and greatest furniture and decor of the day and the place was always spotless. She had current pictures of the family on the walls and of course there was the religeous pictures which hung in every room. I believe the only thing she had that was “old” was a picture of her mother, which sat in a “current” frame. Then of course there was the neighbors. Mrs. Early down at the end of the building, who would waddle her way up and down the front catwalk, snapping her gum with the three teeth she had left and looking to strike up a conversation with whoever was willing. Mary Weston, who lived a few doors down had a million stories to tell about her life and the people in it. I would sit in her apartment and listen to her stories and she would feed me. After my grandmother died I would still visit the folks at 22 Whelan Road. It made me feel a little closer to the memory of my grandmother and I still loved to hear the neighbors re-runs. There were alot of people who lived in the apartments of all four big buildings. They all had a life, a history, a story to tell. And they all mattered. As they all died off they left their legacy within the halls, walls and stairwells of those big buildings. And now... it’s all gone, as if none of it ever mattered.
peter I spent my first seven years on Earth in the hartford project. I attended Nicholson kindergarten and nercary. It was awsome. We use to swim at Marina Park. We’d sled ride at That big hill near silver lake. I attened St. Anthony’s and can still count to ten in French. This all at the time the mass was said in Latin. We lived in poverty, but I did not know that. Dad was sick and Ma had four of us on a VA
lisat i went to the perry school across the street in the 80’s, and lived a mile away. i never entered the building, but i remember it was a scary and ugly place.
Barbara 10 Whelan Road is where my Grand parents retired to in the late 50’s and 60’s. They had raised their sons and were aging. My grandfather died there 08 Jul 1961. He was born on Walling Street in 1885. I remember visiting after “Pa” died.
Billy Donley Friends, The building was built in 1952 by Turgeon Construction. It’s address was 2 Whelan Road. In 1967, after a rehab of sorts, its address was changed to 375 Hartford Avenue. In 1960, my family moved from a cold-water tenement (2 bedrooms, no hot water) to this building, apartment 6L. We had 3 bedrooms, one for the 3 boys, one for the 3 girls, and 1 for my parents. The building was a hotbed of crime at the time and got worse after. But I was VERY happy to have grown up in that housing project, and to this date, 46 years after I moved in, I am still friendly with many of the similarly situated neighbors. I look on my 12 years living in the project as WONDERFUL. I worked in 2 nearby stores, Bills Variety, and Lanes Spa, and also worked in Joe’s Shell Station. Those jobs enabled me to know EVERY resident of the project, with hundreds of apartments. I went on to work for the police department, and retired in 1989. The building, VERY well constructed, took 3 months to demolish with a swinging ball. Every apartment was replaced by what is called scattered site housing, much better modern housing for our lower income fellow citizens.
AA I grew up near these projects, but never, ever, went into them. When I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s the Hartford Projects were a hotbed for crime, violence, and drugs. I especially love these photos because I was there watching this happen.
chester s holmes i visited my nana back when i was a lad,thre seemed to be alot of senior citizens living there,i would qualify now LOL
Maria S These apartments were designed to have only 2 children in a bedroom. My 4 brothers and I shared a bedroom in a small cape cod style house at the time. I remember the bitterness my parents had, since my Dad worked 2 jobs to afford a home for all of us. Mom’s job was to raise us children, make the budget work so all the bills could be paid – and they were. I don’t know about anyone that lived in the Providence Apartments, but my brothers and I have great organizational skills, and can make a lot fit into small areas. We grew up to be productive members of society; this public works project was obviously one more social idea that didn’t work.
Tony Hempfer This is in regards to the photos of the Hartford Park projects. There are some inacurate information about this building. It was built in 1954 and had 60 three bedroom units in it. In a city that has many homeless families it was much needed then as it would be now. Stephen O’Rourke of the Providence Housing Authority testified in court that this building was in danger of falling over from a 30 mile wind gust… that was a lie. Your pictures speak for themselves.
Sharon V. I was there on the morning of the attempted implosion. Hundreds were gathered in anticipation and excitement… never having seen a building come down. I remember the explosions. The building dropped a certain number of feet… and then rested, without fully imploding. We all kind of just stood there, mouths open, shocked and waiting… nothing further happened. Guess something had gone wrong with the wiring of the dynomite, not fully enabling it to implode the building. They eventually had to demolish the remainder of the building manually. It stood there for quite some time before fully demolished. I used to visit an elderly woman there, and also went to school across the street at Oliver Hazard Perry.
Kevin K I remember the morning of this event. I was high-school age, and working at McDonald’s in Cranston, and I happened to be outside sweeping the parking lot of trash and cigarette butts. I heard the blast, and knew what it was. This was about 6 miles away from the blast site.
I also recall that Providence was listed in Newsweek as one of the “Hot Cities” to live in, and the mayor saying something to the effect of “We live in one of the hottest cities and we’re blowing up buildings.” I also remember my great grandmother living in that building in the early 70’s, when the dominant population of the buildings were elderly people.
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