By Erik Christiansen
One reason we love our neighborhood is how easy it is to walk to great restaurants, shops, and parks –even a hospital. But down the hill from that hospital, a parking lot covers the former site of the Rhode Island Auditorium. It’s kind of wild to think that at one point we could have strolled over to hear Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Bob Dylan, Cream, the Who (twice, first playing the Auditorium as the opener for Herman’s Hermits!), Chicago, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Grateful Dead.
The venue opened as home to the Providence Reds ice hockey team in 1926, long before any of those performers were born. For a few years after World War II, the NBA’s Providence Steamrollers called the Auditorium home as well, winning just six games (still the NBA record) in the 1947-48 season. The venue, which held 5,300 people, hosted many other sporting and cultural events over the decades until it was demolished in 1989. If you happen to have an old photograph from a visit to the auditorium, please send it to SNA and we’ll share it on our Summit History page on the SNA website and our Instagram! (@SNAProv)