A Summit Fact March 2021

Image via ArtInRuins.com

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)

The Rhode Island Historical Society presents: The Transit of Venus

In June of 2012, don’t miss the truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the Transit of Venus; it won’t happen again until 2117! First on Sunday, June 3rd, learn more about the 1769 Transit on a walking tour of Providence’s East Side, exploring the very site where the Transit was observed almost 250 years ago.  Then, on Tuesday, June 5th, join us at the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium in Roger Williams Park to view the Transit via a live telecast!  Eclipse glasses will be provided. For more information or to practice viewing the transit, please visit the Events page at http://www.rihs.org.


Welcome the North Main Street Merchants Association!

The North Main Street committee of SNA has been hard at work on forming the formal North Main Street Merchants Association, a separate non-profit organization with the purpose of bettering this important and historic commercial corridor.  They are very pleased to announce that the first meeting of this new organization has taken place.  The organization still needs to be officially formed as a non-profit, and this first meeting was held to gauge merchant interest in such an organization.

On this past Wednesday evening, its first meeting was held at The Sandwich Hut.  Present were members of the SNA North Main Street committee, as well as eleven interested merchants.  Also, there are several other interested merchants who could not make this meeting, but who hope to join the organization.

It was an encouraging start.  We look forward to formalizing the organization and continuing the work of turning North Main Street back into a neighborhood main street that is safe, well-lit, pedestrian-friendly, and full of occupied commercial and residential properties.

Peter Kammerer of the Sandwich Hut has been a major driving force behind this new organization, as well as behind the SNA North Main Street committee since its inception more than eight years ago.  Others instrumental to the project include Summit neighbors Anneliese Greenier and Greg Gerritt, SNA Preseident George Schietinger and SNA VP Jim Kelley.  North Main Street has a long road ahead, and theirs and others continued efforts are appreciated by all.

History Night II maps the past

Ray Watson, Greg Gerritt and David Kolsky find their bearings on an insurance map from the early 20th century.

Ray Watson, Greg Gerritt and David Kolsky find their bearings on an insurance map from the early 20th century. Sue Korté (left) provided the maps.

About 20 neighbors took part in our “Where the East Side Used to Be” History NIght on Tuesday, November 23 at Church of the Redeemer. This neighborhood history event was organized in partnership with the Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association to give everyone a chance to share their own stories about the past of our neighborhood. After looking at maps from the 1900s and 1950s, we made a short list of vanished stores, restaurants and schools. We agreed to continue exploring the past by seeking knowledge, photos and other records of the past from our neighbors with more events and projects in 2010.

We focused mainly on the area between North Main Street or the Moshassuck River on the west to Hope Street on the east and from Olney Street north to Pawtucket. About 20 people attended. The first joint History Night was held in September of 2008 and focused on the history of North Main Street, including the Providence Steamroller football team, (1928 National Football League champions!) which held games on the site of the present Shaw’s Plaza.

Maps and images

After introductions, we got up to inspect two sets of maps on display. One set of photocopies of Sanborn insurance maps from 1957, showed what the neighborhood looked like about the time it first reached full “build out” (all land developed) but before major projects like University Heights, Route 95 and Miriam Hospital expansion occurred. We also had a few images of buildings from the Historical Society collection and Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association.

Another collection of original, full-size color insurance maps, brought by Susan Korté, showed different sections of the neighborhood from sometime prior to 1920, perhaps as early as the 1890s. These maps showed some very interesting “used to be” sites:

  • · A reservoir on the site of Hope High (Hope Street High was across the street).
  • · The Metcalf Botanical Gardens at the site of Brown’s Alumni Stadium.
  • · Brown’s sports field taking up several blocks between Camp and Ivy Street.
  • · Open space north of Rochambeau between Summit and North Main.
  • · More undeveloped land from Top Street to Hope where Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Streets are today.
  • · Many more neighborhood schools, all named for streets: Montague Street, Doyle Avenue, Camp Street, Rochambeau Avenue and Summit Avenue.
  • · A surprising number of greenhouses.

Attendees were invited to share recollections of businesses, schools and neighborhood groups by adding Post-it notes to the maps. Here were some of the places we could remember: (more…)

Do you remember….

Do you remember….

Where the East Side Used to Be?

SNA joins with the Mt. Hope Neighborhood

Association for our second annual joint neighborhood

History Night on Tuesday, November 24 from 7 to 8:30

p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 655 Hope Street.

This time around, we invite neighbors to create their

own history of the East Side by calling on Rhode

Island’s most important navigational aid: our memory

maps of where vanished neighborhood landmarks used

to be. Do you remember the Jenkins Street or Summit

Avenue Schools? Did you shop at Miller’s Deli or Carl’s

Diggin’s? Did you bowl at Down Under Duckpins

(which was where Sullivan’s Lanes used to be)?

Last year’s event on the history of North Main Street

was very well attended. One of the highlights was the

wealth of memories shared by audience members. This

time around, we’ll devote the entire program to

audience participation. Please join us on Nov. 24th for

a lively exploration into remembered neighborhood

stores, schools, restaurants and organizations.

East of Hope Lorimer Blackstone map-99

Ninth-Eighth to Pawtucket maps-97-98

Frost to Pawtucket east of NMS maps-95-961

Frost to Pawtucket east of NMS maps-95-96

Fouth to Nighth-Eighth maps-91-92-93-94

Rochambeau to Fourth maps-88-89-90