When ArtInRuins started there were not quite as many home-grown historians, internet sleuths, or blogs dedicated to tracking change in the architectural landscape as there are now. These are the ones that we know of and support, as well as links to some tools and resources that we find helpful when researching a property.

#Similar Projects (RI)

#Abandoned from Above

Drone footage and abandoned properties with some history thrown in for good measure. Videography project by Jason Allard.

#I {heart} Rhody

Erika Smith has been blogging about people and locations in Rhode Island for over 10 years. Her interests move from the historical and the odd to the local artisans who practice their craft all over the state.

#Lots in Limbo

There are fifty vacant lots in Downtown Providence. Those include in-transition places like 110 Westminster and 143 Washington Street/132 Fountain Street and the area’s forty-eight pay and private parking lots. The city’s urban fabric has a few holes. Hear the interviews, get information on how you can take action to make use of public land, and contribute your thoughts about what you’d like to see Providence become.

A project of a class in the American Civilization department at Brown University around the years 2009-2011.


Old PVD is run by historian Maureen Taylor. It is a map-based project with layers of historic maps overlaid on the current streetscape. Anyone can sign up to add pins to the maps. These pins might only appear for a few years if a building was built and then destroyed for one reason or another. The result is an interactive experience like walking through old versions of the same city you currently live in.

#PPS Architecture Guide

The Providence Preservation Society has been fighting irresponsible and disrespectful redevelopment projects in the City for over 60 years. In addition to helping to preserve the character of Providence’s built environment and championing respectful and thoughtful new development, the Society is a wealth of knowledge about the building stock we already have. Their architecture guide is a compendium of information from historic surveys, their Architecture Guidebook, and years and years of Ten Most Endangered Lists and Festival of Historic Houses programs.


A teacher-led and student-built guide of Providence places, past and present. The information was collected in 2002 and 2003, so while it might be out of date now, it is a good source of data from that very busy time period before many buildings had been razed.

#PVD Signs

A collection of mostly hand-painted professional, amateur, and decaying signs in and around Providence — including some neon or three-dimensional signs as well. A great visual pastiche of the typographic character of the city’s businesses.

#PVD Now & Then

A collection of now and before photos diving into the photographic history of our city. Run by Mike Ferguson.

#Rhode Island Armories

A web compendium of ornate armories throughout the state.

#Rhode Tour

Captivating places, intriguing people, and exciting events fill Rhode Island’s history. Rhode Tour offers a new way to interact with these untold tales of the state’s past. Using stories, sounds, and images, history comes alive. A project by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

#Steve Dunwell & Run of the Mill

A collection of photographs of New England Mills from 1973-2021. People, Structures, Hydro, and “The Run of the Mill” book (1978) featuring an in-depth look at ,ill architecture and work culture in New England after America’s bicentennial and almost 100 years after the start of the Industrial Revolution. His stock collection is a searchable listing of over 400 images.

#Small State Big History

The Online Review of Rhode Island History. Put together by some pretty serious academic folks, this blog intrigues me because they have been responding to recent events pretty quickly — the post on the Macaroni Riots and Vaccines in RI are particularly timely and intriguing. An easy site to get lost reading — short on visuals but long on quality historical content.

#Similar Projects (beyond RI)

#Decay Devils

The Decay Devils spearhead historic building preservation, restoration, and appreciation in Northwest Indiana and beyond. It is our goal to bring new life and restore beauty, safety, and activity in the places we once looked past or cringed at. Art interventions as well as typical restoration efforts.

#Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

In many ways, the precursor to ArtInRuins, set in Detroit, Michigan. Many, many fabulous ruins located here.

#Inventory of Octagon, Hexagon, and Round Houses

Exactly what it sounds like — a country-wide list of all the octagon plan houses listed by state. A great resource for browsing around, with some interesting links in Rhode Island.


An urban exploration site with location features from all over New England and Maryland and a great exploration of the Staten Island Ferry graveyard. Part of a collection of sites that are called “Ruin Porn” in some circles — definitely a web ring you can get lost in.

#Modern Ruins

The personal portfolio and project site of Philip Beuhler

#Museums, Research, & Resources

#Dead Malls

Dead Malls is exactly what it sounds like. Explore the sad present of the recent history of the indoor mall.

#Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) are two major collections of 19th century documentation of historic structures throughout the country. Their collections include many properties that have been surveyed for inclusion into the National Register as well as other surveys conducted after the Industrial Revolution. Search their collection online through the Library of Congress and get started by using the search terms “Rhode Island” or ”Providence Rhode Island”. The titles for each entry are fairly verbose so searching can also be done by location terms, property name, or business name.

#The John O. Pastore Photograph Album at Providence College

After a distinguished career of 42 years in politics, Rhode Island Senator John O. Pastore retired from politics and donated his political papers to Providence College. Included among his papers was a photograph album of late 19th and early 20th century images. Many of the locations and buildings depicted in these images are now unrecognizable.

#Ladd School Historical Society

The Ladd School Historical Society is a private organization dedicated to researching and preserving the history of the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd Center, a residential and custodial institution for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Exeter, Rhode Island.

#National Register of Historic Places

A List of National Register places in RI. The National Register is the official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation, part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

#New England Wireless & Steam Museum

Opened October 3, 1964, NEWSM was founded by Robert W. Merriam of East Greenwich. This crew of dedicated volunteers house hundreds of examples of machinery that were once commonplace in New England, including one of the only running Corliss Steam Engines.

#Old Breweries in Rhode Island

A list of the breweries that were founded in Rhode Island from OldBreweries.com.

#Providence Archives

The Providence City Archives are hosted on Preservica. Of note are maps that are in the sweet spot of years that are not easily found in other public sources, as well as a collection of House Directories from 1895 through 1935 organized by Street name.

#Providence Historical Aerial Viewer

The PHAV is a great resource and compendium of aerial surveys from as early as 1939 — though don’t expect the same level of zoom quality as modern satellite imagery. Some great before and after aerials can be found here.

#Providence Preservation Society Slides Collection

From 2018 to 2023, PPS underwent a large digitization project that documents Providence architecture from the 1950s-90s and demonstrates how our city developed and changed during the latter half of the 20th century. With the help of many dedicated student interns, and grant support from Historic New England and the Herman H. Rose Fund, they’ve digitized their extensive slide collection. View the collection housed in a public Google Drive folder.

#The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

The RIHPHC is the statewide agency for historical preservation and heritage programs. The Commission operates a statewide historical preservation program that identifies and protects historic buildings, districts, structures, and archaeological sites. The Commission also develops and carries out programs to document and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Rhode Island’s people.

The RIHPHC operates its own National Register property search for RI and hosts a wealth of documentation material including statewide surveys and individual town surveys.

#Sanborn Maps for the State of Rhode Island

Brown University’s Library has an impressive collection of Sanborn Insurance Maps. With these, the build environment can be seen in detail and will change over time as neighborhoods are built and filled in. Presently their collection goes back to 1884.


#College Hill Neighborhood Association

The CHNA tracks local district issues affecting residents of College Hill, including expansion plans that Brown and RISD might have. Notices about meetings and zoning board hearings are posted. Hot issues include property taxes, overnight parking, and enforcement of the College Hill Institutional Zone.

#Downtown Neighborhood Association

Providing people who live and/or work in Providence with a strong residential voice. The DNA says they can help develop a diverse, safe, and civil environment throughout downtown Providence by collaborating with the Mayor and key decision-makers to heighten the quality-of-life and image of our city.

#East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society

The EGHPS was founded to thoughtfully preserve the historic fabric of East Greenwich. It is a community focused local history organization that has provided free monthly speakers, research, exhibits, events and other activities since 1967.

#Jewelry District Association

The JDA keeps track of current events that effect residents and businesses of the Jewelry District. It also has an extensive history of the area, which has helped us with research of certain properties. They also help make sure new construction or rehab construction conforms to the design standards and guidelines for this Historic District.

#Pawtucket/Central Falls Development

Pawtucket and Central Fall’s Community Development Corporation works in the Broad Street neighborhood and beyond for affordable housing and the improvement of community housing and green space. Home buyer and landlord education offerings as well as a limited pool of new and renovated affordable housing stock in the two cities.

#Preservation Society of Fall River

Founded in 2007 and incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Preservation Society of Fall River’s all-volunteer board of directors and its members are dedicated to protecting Fall River’s historical resources and unique architecture.

#Preserve RI

Rhode Island’s only statewide non-profit preservation organization, Preserve Rhode Island is protecting Rhode Island’s historic structures and unique places for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Advocacy, Education, Merit Awards and Mini Grants help fuel the community and get our message out there.

#Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the Rhode Island Historical Society is a privately endowed, membership organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing Rhode Island’s history.

#Summit Neighborhood Association

The SNA is an non-profit, grassroots organization of the residents of the Summit Neighborhood on the East Side of Providence.

#US Green Buildings Council

The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. They advance sustainable building with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] program. Site includes a state-by-state directory of certified buildings.

#West Broadway Neighborhood Association

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

#West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation

A private, not-for profit community-based organization in West Elmwood that promotes a healthy, sustainable community in the West End of Providence through cultivating and enabling home ownership. They help build and renovate homes, attract resources into the neighborhood, and invest in the most important resource – the diverse people, who live, work and support the community.