Exterior Restoration Complete, $1.5 Million Accessibility Project Tees Up at Old State House

Published on Wednesday, April 13, 2022

(Providence, R.I.) The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), and elected officials gathered to celebrate the completion of the exterior restoration of the Old State House in Providence. Governor Daniel J. McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, and State Senator Samuel D. Zurier joined to recognize the top-notch preservation project completed by Rhode Island contractors earlier this year. 

Erected in 1760-62 when Rhode Island was but a colony, the red brick and brownstone Old State House has played a pivotal role in the political life of Rhode Island for 260 years. It was the setting on May 4, 1776, when Rhode Island’s General Assembly renounced its allegiance to King George III, two months ahead of the Declaration of Independence. When the new State House opened on Smith Hill in 1901, the building became home to the Sixth District Court. Today it is headquarters of the State preservation commission, Rhode Island’s agency for historical preservation and heritage programs.

The $2.1 million exterior restoration project included installation of a new wood shingle roof, repair and replacement of deteriorated brownstone, repointing all masonry, replication of doors facing the Parade, window restoration, painting exterior wood trim, and installing a new bell carriage in the tower. The project took two years to complete.

Planning is underway for the next project, to include installation of a new, ADA-compliant elevator, accessible bathrooms, code upgrades, and restoration of interior finishes. This work will be funded in part by a $500,000 grant for capital improvements at the Old State House in Providence from the Save America’s Treasures program, funded by the Historic Preservation Fund, and administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The federal grant will be leveraged by contributions from the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities and DCAMM. When the project is complete, the Old State House will once again be available for public meetings and events.

“The Old State House is an important symbol in our State’s – and our nation’s – history,” said Governor McKee. “This restoration is crucial not only to its aesthetic preservation, but also to its accessibility to Rhode Islanders and visitors alike for generations to come. I’m grateful for the skilled workers who carefully repaired, replaced and restored the building, and all those involved in securing funding for these improvements.”

“I am proud to serve as lieutenant governor in a state that cherishes and preserves its storied history, said Lt. Governor Matos. “These and upcoming updates will ensure that our Old State House remains intact for current and future generations to enjoy, admire, and learn from.”

RIHPHC Interim Executive Director Jeffrey Emidy said: “The exterior project that we are celebrating today is a critical step in ensuring the long-term viability of the Old State House. Now, we must move on to the ADA-required improvements so that the building can be utilized to its fullest extent by the public. We are thankful to our Congressional delegation, Governor McKee, the State Department of Administration, and the National Park Service for providing funds to make this project possible.”

After the State officials cut the ribbon, the Old State House bell began to clang, sounding out a celebration from the slopes of College Hill.

Ribbon-cutting at Old State House 4/13/22
Ribbon-cutting at Providence's Old State House with Governor McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos
Ribbon-cutting at Old State House 4/13/22
Gov. McKee speaks at Old State House, Providence