images of this Property
13 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Photos by Sarah Clover, Matt Kierstead, and Erik Gould.
About this Property
Reason For Demolition
Apparently, the city said “yes” to a demolition permit request before checking the historic designation (it was on the National Register of Historic places). According to map data that I could find on Google Earth, the towers were demolished somewhere between July 2002 and April 2003.
Today in Europe these types of sites are preserved and celebrated for what they are – monuments, gigantic outdoor urban sculptures. Here we seem to be eager to demolish them because we think they are “ugly.” (OK, the land they are on IS worth something.) In the years between 1998 and 2008, when real estate prices were at their peak, Providence lost much of its industrial heritage — the Allens Avenue gasholder frames, the India Point Swing Bridge, almost all of the Provisions Warehouse National Register district, Harris Avenue Lumber, and the list goes on.
The Atlantic Coal (“Blue Coal”) storage silos at the Rt. 6/10 split in Providence are gone. I drove by today and that tall, rippling wall of concrete no longer rose above the horizon. Did I miss them? I drove back. Backhoes were crawling at odd angles on the stumps of the silos, loading the concrete debris into dumptrucks. I was stunned. Why didn’t I hear about it? I figured that something so monumental was indestructable, and there was time. I was wrong. We get so excited about “mills” (a catch-all word for industrial buildings) but what about industrial ENGINEERING RESOURCES AND INFRASTRUCTURE? Big cities are losing what I call historic “food ‘n’ fuel” resources – places where the bulk commodities that kept us fed and warm were brought by ship and rail, stored, and distributed. These were vital civic organs. Today in Europe they are preserved and celebrated for what they are – monuments, gigantic outdoor urban sculptures. Here we seem to be eager to demolish them because we think they are “ugly.” (OK, the land they are on IS worth something). In the last few years Providence has lost the Allens Avenue gasholder frames, the India Point Swing Bridge, almost all of its Provisions Warehouse NR district… the list goes on. OK, so I’m ranting on my industrial historian’s soapbox… but this is another sad day in Providence.
– Matt Kierstead, Public Archeology Lab, 2002
The Atlantic Coal Company “Blue Coal” storage silos were built in the World War I era for coal storage. They were cylindrical, reinforced concrete storage bins fed by a vertical bucket conveyor that elevated the coal to the top of the structure, and a horizontal conveyor running across the top that fed the individual bins. The coal was delivered by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and distributed by horse-drawn carts, and later, by trucks.
Until the advent of natural gas and oil for home heating, New England’s primary domestic fuel was anthracite coal; a hard, smokeless, clean-burning coal that was only mined from three coalfields in eastern Pennsylvania. Many anthracite-hauling railroads had their own coal marketing and distribution companies.
The name “Blue Coal” was the promotional trademark of the DL & W Coal Sales Company, a subsidiary of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad company. The company actually sprayed a light blue coating on random pieces of coal to identify their product. The Atlantic Coal Company was the Providence distributor of this product, as well as bituminous coal for blacksmithing and coke for foundry furnaces.