Well let us say goodbye to yet another landmark of Rhode Island history—the former Narragansett Brewery Trolley Barn. Unfortunately, a few teenagers set fire to the abandoned building on May 3rd and because of the damage, the city of Cranston deemed the building unsafe. There is a huge photo of the destruction on the front page of one of my favorite websites, Art In Ruins—a Providence-based organization that supports intelligent development of abandoned buildings for the best interests of our local communities.
     Former Providence mayor and real estate collector Joseph R. Paolino Jr., purchased the building in 1999. According to this article in the Providence Journal, Paolino had proposed several uses for the site including housing the State Police headquarters or the Department of Motor Vehicles. I really question Mr. Paolino’s sincerity in trying to find developers that would develop the parcel without demolition. Just last year, his company tore down a former Gulf station (with a funky design and great potential for other uses) near downtown Providence and turned it into a parking lot without acquiring the proper permits.
     It is really unfortunate when structures like the Trolley Barn are torn down, regardless of the reasoning behind each demolition. If the Trolley Barn had not been set on fire, I’m sure that this parcel would have suffered the same fate of Paolino’s other Brewery property, which now houses a discount strip mall that includes K-Mart, Lowe’s and AJ Wright.