East Providence High School (1952)

An aging 70-year-old municipal structure outlived its usefullness and could not keep up with the educational needs of a new generation

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

In 2018, the town of East Providence issued a RFP to design a replacement high school to its almost 70 year old counterpart. With 1600 students in grades 9 through 12, its was not an easy task. That, and the building must remain on the same property and be built while the older school remains in use.

The $189.5 million school cost the residents of East Providence about $100 million less due to state reimbursements — which were given at the maximum alloable rate of 74.37% of total construction costs.1

The aging concrete and cinderblock building was a victim of changing educational standards, some deferred maintenance, but also the ravages of time and heavy use by unforgiving adolescents. The school’s one science lab could not service the needs of students — the new building will have 11 new labs. Superindent Kathryn Crowley added “…They have a beautiful greenhouse in this building… (a) double gymnasium with a walking track above it. We have a library media center that’s second to none. It’s almost like going into a college building.”2

“It’s a good thing there’s gonna be a new school. It’s gonna be better things…we didn’t even have heat or AC, so, not gonna miss that at all. It was terrible. Ceiling tiles were falling down, water was leaking,” said Marco Medeiros, class of 2021. “We should have gotten a new school a while ago.”3

Current Events

The new high school was completed in time for the 2021 fall academic start of the year. Athletics were delayed or moved to adjacent fields while the old building was razed and the grounds prepared for soccer and baseball fields, which were completed in the summer of 2022.


Architecture critic William Morgan

Designed by the respected engineering firm of Charles A. Maguire, the high school displayed a Modern European aesthetic, paying homage to International Style émigré architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius (Gropius designed the Peter Thacher Junior High School in Attleboro in 1948). The school’s symbolic clock tower, with its nod to Scandinavian modernism, has fortunately been spared the wrecking ball.4

From Wikipedia.org

1952 - 2021 building

The old East Providence High School opened its doors in 1952 as East Providence Senior High School. It replaced the original 1884 school building on Broadway that later became Central Junior High School. It was one of the first modern high schools built during the early 1950s that deviated from previous architectural styles. The construction included amenities such as a modernized cafeteria and auditorium to accommodate 1,000 occupants as well as a swimming pool with adjoining training and full size gymnasiums. During construction of the school, a clock tower was built on campus and has since become an iconic symbol of East Providence High. In 1999 a new wing was built as well as an expansion to the existing cafeteria. Neighboring the school is the East Providence Career and Technical Center which is contiguous with East Providence High School and is included in the study programs of some students.

In the News

Alumni stop by to share memories as demolition begins on East Providence High School

by Linda Berg
Providence Journal | August 2, 2021 (abridged)

The old East Providence High School was like your first car. It got you where you were going but it wasn’t pretty, and by the time you junked it, it could barely get out of second gear.

Monday, the demolition of the nearly 70-year-old high school began — a month-long project that carries a lot of Townie memories with it.

Across the street, former students stopped to watch a giant crane scoop enormous chunks of the building out of the newer wing. Besides the exposed bricks and rebar, an onlooker pointed out a few lockers, now dangling upside down, and a microwave, which won’t be reheating teachers’ leftovers any longer. […]

“It’s very sad,” [Debbie] Vieira said as the “new” wing began to crumble.

But they also remember what tough shape the building was in 15 years ago. The roofs leaked. Ceiling tiles fell. And the heat was so inconsistent that students often wore their winter coats indoors.

‘The good, the bad and the ugly’

When the Journal toured the high school in 2017, a visit dubbed “the good, the bad and the ugly,” a staff member described the school as a catastrophe waiting to happen.

When the state in 2018 was drumming up support for a $250-million school construction bond, which later passed, East Providence High School was the poster child for the decades of neglect hanging like a cloud over dozens of public schools.

Beneath the gym, some of the concrete support beams were crumbling. Steam pipes carrying heat to the classrooms were corroded.

“This school has been patched together with duct tape and chewing gum,” said Albert Escobar, the school’s maintenance mechanic.

Even more stunning, there was only one science lab for 1,600 students. […]

Despite the school’s many physical flaws, locals say they got a solid education at East Providence.

John Gonzalez, Class of 1997, said he might not have become the artist he is today without that one special high school teacher.

“This place was formative for me,” he said. “My art teacher helped me get into the Rhode Island School of Design and I’m thankful for that.”

Captured July 31, 2022 from https://www.providencejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/08/02/demolition-begins-east-providence-high-school-and-alumna-stop-share-memories/5455225001/

  1. Rego, Mike. “New $189.5 million EPHS project maxes out on state reimbursements.” East Bay RI, June 17, 2021. Accessed July 30, 2022 from https://www.eastbayri.com/stories/new-1895-million-ephs-project-maxes-out-on-state-reimbursements,91151 

  2. Pitts, Amanda. “‘It’s the end of an era’: Demolition of old East Providence High School begins.” ABC 6 News, August 2, 2021. Accessed July 31, 2022 from https://www.abc6.com/its-the-end-of-an-era-demolition-of-old-east-providence-high-school-begins/ 

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Morgan, William. “Townie Pride: East Providence High School – Architecture Critic Morgan.” GoLocalProv. October 9, 2021. Accessed July 31, 2022 from https://www.golocalprov.com/business/townie-pride-east-providence-high-schoolarchitecture-critic-morgan