Doesn’t anyone want to save Superman?

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Doesn’t anyone want to save Superman? by Joanne Giannini

Doesn’t anyone want to save Superman?

by Joanne Giannini


Lois Lane, where are you when we need you? How many of us are fans of the Superman Building located at 111 Westminster Street. After all, it is the tallest building in Providence, Rhode Island, and the 28th tallest in New England.

Not to mention it truly is a beautiful building. I remember when I worked in downtown Providence and it was the Industrial National Bank. I would go there every Friday to cash my paycheck.


I was always in awe of the Art Deco design, shiny floors, tall ceilings, and the architectural landscape. It certainly added to Providence’s landscape with its 26 floors of beauty. The building itself was built in 1926 and remained a bank till Bank of America moved out in 2013. The building was dubbed the name the “Superman Building” because many believed it resembled the building in the Superman Series in fictional Metropolis.


In 2008 the building was purchased by High Rock developers for $33.2 million. At that time there were plans to make the building residential. But a costly estimate of $100 million to do renovations, has stopped any action. Owner, David Sweetser has said that they are maintaining the building, but its age and being vacant certainly has taken its toll on “Superman”.


Now the National Trust for Historic Preservation has put it in their annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places.


Buildings like the “Superman Building” won’t be built anymore. The marble, the fixtures, the sculptures just can’t be reproduced today. Rhode Islanders have a heart for nostalgia and always like to reminisce about the good old days.


Who will come forward to “Save Superman” for generations to come? The owners are at a standstill and the building is dormant.  What can be done to save it? We have some of the most talented architects and developers in Rhode Island, but no one seems to have the niche to save this historic landmark.

Meanwhile, we all await as the lights remain dim and another Rhode Island landmark quietly goes to sleep.