By Ariel Finkle
By now, every EGHS senior knows that, as in countless years before, this year’s graduation ceremony will take place at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island. But not every senior knows about the history of this Rhode Island landmark. Here are five facts about it to get you started:
- It was originally going to be part of a Masonic complex.
The Rhode Island Freemasons were planning a complex of meeting halls, etc. to build in this area, which included building an auditorium. In fact, the Renaissance Providence Hotel right next to the VETS was originally a Freemasons meeting hall.
- It took 23 years to build.
Construction started in 1927, froze when the Great Depression hit, then resumed in the 1940s towards the end of World War II. The theater finally opened in 1950.
- It almost became a parking lot.
From 1950 to the early 1980s, the VET was slowly deteriorating. As a result, the state was considering bulldozing the theater completely. Luckily, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium Preservation Association soon formed and worked with then-Governor DiPrete to restore and save it.
- It’s the largest theater stage in the state.
In all, it has 1,931 seats.
- It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also on the United States Register is Faneuil Hall in Boston, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, and the East Greenwich Historic District on Main Street! (This EG District includes the Kent County Courthouse and the Armory of the Kentish Guards.
And there you have it, a better background on this building’s history. Feel free to utilize it to impress your friends and family!