"The Masonic Temple building is a seven floor, steel framed, classical revival structure built with limestone and brick cladding. The building footprint occupies approximately 17,340 square feet, and the building contains approximately 155,200 gross square feet of interior floor area. The Masonic Temple building has a view of the Rhode Island State House. Its eastern face features a colossal ionic colonnade above a 2 ½ story basement to a massive cornice. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places" (2).
Due to both the building's magnificence and its location in downtown Providence, debate concerning the programmatic evolution of the incomplete and vacant Masonic Temple has been controversial. Urgency in dealing with the fate of the building increased with renovations to the train station and the coming of the Providence Place Mall. There are essentially two options: seek "creative reuse" of the building by transforming it into commercial, office, or institutional space; or demolish the existing building for commercial, residential, or hotel space.
In an August 3, 2001, news brief from of the Office of the Governor of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Governor Lincoln Almond announced that Algen Construction and Development had secured a $38.7 million loan from New York-based M.K.D. Capital Corp. "to develop a 216-room luxury hotel in the abandoned Masonic Temple building in downtown Providence" (1). Allan Goldfarb of Goldfarb Properties said, "When completed, the hotel will become one of the architectural signatures of Providence. Our architects, Brennan Beer Gorman, are among the premier hotel specialists. Their design is historic, yet urbane and elegant. We have a restaurant lined-up and are in discussions to bring a famous full-service spa to the hotel" (1).
Unfortunately, by March 27, 2002, the pending proposal was withdrawn as Algen Construction and Development was unable to close on financing for the project due to the slowdown in the nation’s economy. "I was very disappointed to learn that the luxury hotel project had fallen victim of the economy," said Governor Almond. "We have worked hard for years to put every step in place to preserve the architectural and historic significance of this building so it could provide needed hotel rooms in our capital city. It is my hope that a new developer will come forward with a viable proposal to transform the existing structure that will contribute to the vibrancy of the Providence Place Mall, the State House, and the surrounding area" (1).
The State, through the Economic Development Corporation, is now requesting Letters of Interest that put forward ideas for the rehabilitation of the existing building or the redevelopment of the Masonic Temple site should the building be demolished.