the QUAY Building former Anderson Duncan Warehouse


This historic structure along the old waterfront is being preserved by Narragansett Electric. One of the only remaining quay warehouses built in the early 19th century, this building is an important reminder of Providence's beginnings as a main seaport.

It is in bad shape and is badly contaminated, but the plan is to save it and it is an important reminder of what we have lost in the architectural fabric along the river’s edge. It would be much easier for Narragansett Electric to take this building down and start over with a modern industrial sub-station on this site, but they are doing the right thing by trying to preserve it. The roof has been removed because they need crane access to remove the asbestos and the old transformers. The brick walls on the sides are buckling from the lack of long lost structures on either side. The existing roof is too heavy for the now unsupported walls. This structure is what is left of what was once a dense waterfront full of warehouse structures and docks.

The entire roof was removed and replaced with a lighter steel one. Narragansett Electric will continue to house transformers and switch stations in the rear, but the northwest street facade will become available for a more public use, probably a restaurant along the new riverfront.

The preservation, renovation and reconstruction of this building is a very expensive undertaking (several million plus) that is being done by Narragansett Electric because they value the preservation of what remains along the riverbank. Supposedly the structural engineers and the construction company both considered the building in such bad shape and so expensive to save that they recommended demolition. The work has since been completed.

If anyone can verify it, please contact us.


Alexander Duncan Warehouse (ca. 1800): 2-story, brick structure with corbel cornice and slate hip roof; polychrome stone relieving arches over 2nd-story windows; original loading bays on first story now blocked down. Duncan, a Scotsman, came to America in 1822 and married Cyrus Butler’s niece; he was associated in business with Butler in Providence during the 1840s and also served as President of the Providence and Worcester Railroad Company. While he removed to England during the Civil War, he maintained real-estate interests in RI building both this warehouse and the nearby Hay Block at 121 Dyer. It served as a harborside warehouse until purchased by Narragansett Electric around the turn of the century.

146 Dyer rear (no images): Narragansett Electric Battery Substation (ca 1920): 3-story brick structure with a flat roof and simple band cornice and quoined corners. This building has been used by the Narragansett Electric Company since its construction.

Zachariah Allen Interesting history. Family lore was a little different, and probably romanticized.

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

Color 1 Color 2 Color 3