Providence Chapel Relocates, Weybosset Site to Become Hotel

Frank Sevola In the Headlines

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A press conference on June 4 at St. Francis Friary here announced that 58 Weybosset Street will be developed into a 115-room Hampton Inn & Suites.  An additional 23,000 square foot 10-story building will be built in the courtyard thus doubling the size of the current building. Construction will start in the fall with the projected opening of the hotel being September 2008.

The owners of the building are The Granoff Associates of Providence and the developer is First Bristol Corporation of Fall River, Mass. The current chapel on the first floor of the building is moving to Westminster Street in downtown Providence (just two blocks from the original Page Street Chapel) on June 20.   The Parish and City Ministry Center offices will move to the Church of St. Mary on Broadway on June 22, and the friars will move into the new friary during the summer months.

The Providence friar community celebrated its first anniversary at the Church of St. Mary on Broadway on June 1.  The Franciscans have been in this city for 51 years, and these changes are all part of the successful transition.

An article in the June 15 issue of the Providence Journal said that “after selling the building to developer Evan Granoff last year, the friars announced they had accepted an invitation from Bishop Thomas Tobin to take over the administration of the diocesan parish, St.Mary, including weekend Mass.”

Many regular attendees at the Holy Name Masses have commented to local reporters about the city’s need for the presence of the friars. Some mentioned their love of Franciscan spirituality.

The 58 Weybosset Street building was sold, in part, because the friars no longer needed such a large building after the Province moved its novitiate to Delaware in 1999. Also, the income derived from leasing three floors was not enough to cover routine expenses, let alone needed expenses for improvement to the elevator ,heating and air-conditioning systems.

Holy Name Friars serve Providence residents and visitors with a broad range of ministries in a variety of locations.  They include:
● Bread and Blessing sandwich program at the Beneficient Congregational Church
● Francis Cares food program and wellness program at the Poverello Center in the city’s    Manton section
● Alcoholics Anonymous group that meets at First Baptist Church
● Catholic Knitters group at St. Mary

 —  Fr. Frank is pastor and executive director of St. Mary Parish and St. Francis Chapel and City Ministry Center.