To view the website of the region’s “most anticipated lifestyle-retail center”, click here. (Yes, that was sarcastic)
By Mary-Ann Currier
Cranston Chamber of Commerce Newsletter | December 2003
By the summer of 2005, a city within a city will be fully developed along Sockanosset Cross Road and New London Avenue. The village will be the long-awaited Chapel View, the retail, office and residential complex envisioned by Cranston resident Alfred Carpionato and now under construction by Carpionato Properties on the site of the old Boys Training School.
At a total cost of $65 million, the project will be one of the largest ever in Cranston. It is expected to generate more than $1 million per year in tax revenue for the city. And it is the result of the vision of one man – Carpionato, a developer who has lived in Cranson for many years and has seen this site and its dramatic stone buildings and has had a vision of what this could be, according to Kelly Coates, senior vice president of Carpionato properties.
To some, Chapel View may seem like a European city, with its eclectic mixture of apartments, shops, restaurants and offices, often in the same buildings. Residential units will be located above offices and shops in six buildings – three of them dormitories from the original late Victorian-era Training School and three new structures connecting the dormitories. There will be additional residential units above offices in other buildings. Those who live in the uppermost units on what is already one of the highest points in Cranston will have an unparalleled view of the cities of Providence, Cranston and Warwick.
Shaws Supermarket will move across the street from its current location in the Garden City Shopping Center and will be a separate structure in the new complex. The old chapel that served the Training School will be transformed into a restaurant, with a large exterior seating area that, too, will feature a magnificent view.
There will be another standalone restaurant in the complex that is expected to be occupied by a national chain and additional eateries among the shops, according to Coates. The complex will have 1,131 outdoor parking spaces and 139 garage spaces, the latter for residents and workers in the offices. Some 351 of the parking spaces will be at the Shaws Supermarket. Chapel View is being built on one of the most accessible sites in Rhode Island. Routes 95, 37 and 295 are all nearby. The main entrance will be on Route 2.
It is no accident that Chapel View will resemble a European city. The old Training School dormitories that will anchor it were constructed in a style called “Victorian Gothic,” a French and German style that was brought to the United States in the 1870s, Coates says. He says the buildings have “Germanic touches,” such as exposed stick work.
In the part of the complex that will be anchored by the dormitories, the first floor will house shops, the second floor will include offices and residential units will be on the third floor. Coates says Carpionato Properties expects that the residential units will attract business executives looking for second homes and empty-nesters. He says there has already been a “strong interest” in the units. Phase I of Chapel View is expected to be completed by the spring or summer of next year. That will include the new Shaws and some retail establishments. By the end of next summer, the restaurant at the chapel and buildings connecting the dormitories should be complete.
First, I’d like to say that we are very glad that these buildings are being reused, given their slightly creepy, ghost-like nature. It is especially noteworthy as it would have been very easy to put in another retail chain box just like nearby Garden City. That they are trying to make a center with mixed-use commercial and residential spaces is commendable. We are only sad to see so much reliance on autos, but, we have to remember that this IS Cranston, and these is not many locations that RIPTA services around there anyway. Hopefully the residents of this complex will visit the shops and restaurants they live right next to often, and it will be a small, walkable community.
The establishment of the Howard Reservation, which includes the Boys Training School, was Rhode Island’s first attempt to provide statewide social services through publicly supported and administered institutions.
In 1866, a state Board of Charities and Corrections was established for the purpose of consolidating into one “state farm” a house of correction, a state asylum for the incurably insane, and a state almshouse. The two-fold goal was to raise standards for the indigent while at the same time lifting this burden from the local towns and cities.
There was a machine shop, a carpenter shop, a printing shop, a mason shop and a blacksmith shop where the boys learned useful trades. The boys also helped construct their own environment, so the elements that compose the structures themselves reflect the philosophy that created and guided the school throughout its history. The bricks, stone and mortar, as well as the woodwork, bear silent testimony to the benefits of honest labor (or hold the ghosts of the past).
The cottages that housed the boys were designed to give them a sense of ordered and structured home life; they were both institutional and domestic at the same time. These handsome cottages, which surround a circular driveway, were built between 1881 and 1895 and combine solid rubblestone walls, brownstone quoins, and arched windows with Stick style porches.
Wholesome recreational activities were provided by the gymnasium (built in 1898). The chapel and its infirmary addition administered the necessary spiritual and physical healing needed by the wayward youth. The current chapel (now minus the infirmary wing, which was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. In some of the photos you can see the ghost of the roofline) was built in 1891 of stone, with a shingled porch. Designed by Stone, Carpenter and Wilson, it is one of the most handsome buildings at the Howard Complex.
The Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission report on Cranston states, “Although in disrepair, the buildings at Sockanosset, beautifully sited on spacious grounds behind a stone wall, are among the finest nineteenth-century institutional buildings in the state.”
Excerpted from text by the Cranston Historic District Commision. Read the full history here.
Read an Annual Report from 1895 of the school with enrollment and activities outlined.
J.C. Walsh Apr 28 2011 The Sockanosett Training school has always fascinated me. The look of the buildings, how the gothic architect looked and everytime i was in the in the car with my parents and drove by, or when i someday began driving when i turned 18, i always thought to myself what kind of stories did that place hold. Even though they could be dark i can’t help but want to know them not just for the research for a great fictional story but just to learn such history, can anyone help me out?
Linnea Jun 12 2010 My daughter and I visited and photographed many of the buidlings just when they were starting to demolish some. When I told my father about it, we found out he used to visit there as the protestant chaplain/social worker. Does anyone remember William Wiltenburg?
Terry Shea Aug 24 2009 My dad was a Guidance Counselor at The Training School, as everyone called it, in the 70s and into the early 80s. We used to pick him up for work and I’d see kids being dragged in, cuffed. And the implicit threat was that you’d wind up there if ”you were bad” and it certainly kept me out of trouble knowing that I’d wind up in there with my father!! I was brought into a classroom there by my Father around 1974 or so to demonstrate to some kids that I was able to read at an early age. I think it was an attempt to shame some of the teenagers who weren’t able to read yet... I kind of resent this now, as I’m sure most of them probabaly wanted to kill this snotty little precocious kid reading his dinosaur book. My dad also helped me build my Pinewood Derby cars for Cub Scouts in the woodshop there... a positive memory... and I became the inheritor of some of the contraband that was confiscated from the some of the kids... but, even then, the place had an air of gloom about it. It epitomizes the early 70s for me
Ruth Jan 5 2009 If we heard that a kid was sent to Socko, we trembled. Parents had us convinced that they could simply commit us there or to Oaklawn. One irresponble relative of mine would take his ill behaved child thru Howard and threaten to leave her there.
Bruce Ames Dec 22 2008 In June 1944, Arthur E. Marley, Superintendent, Sockanosset, heard a German radio band message about my uncle being shot down over Bremen, Germany during a B-17 bombing raid. Arthur Marley sent a letter to my uncle’s wife informing her that her husband was a wounded POW in a Stalag camp. We still have the letter. I was surprised to learn about the difficulties at Sockanosset, but at least one person had a “caring spot” in his heart. A belated Thank You goes out to Arthur Marley. Does anyone remember him?
sande Dec 20 2008 It is really sad that the only impression of this school was for bad kids. Well, I beg to differ. I have 2 uncles and an aunt that were put in this school. In talking to my uncles and doing the family history. Children were also put in this school because there parents did not want them or they couldn’t afford to take care of them. My uncles were 6 & 7 and my aunt was 5.They were not all bad boys or girls. They were there because they had no other choice.
Maria Merandi Sept 18 2008 My mom went there in 1964. She often told us stories about her and her girlfriend that was pregnant. My mom is quite ill and I would love to surprise her by getting her back in touch with her friend. Does anyone know her or how to get in touch with her??
colleen ray July 6 2008 Well my little brother Scott Ray, you don’t even remember Pepe’s name! Not Alfred Gaulin, it was Wilfred! Yes our grandfather was the one taking care of the “bad boys” while we were growing up. I remember staying at his house, right where the library is now (if anyone has any pictures ot this house please e-mail me) I remember being in the backyard with my Meme and a boy would run through the yard (escaping from the school) and she would let him in to use the phone to call for a ride. Boy Pepe did not like to hear this when he came home. We would go to the built-in swimming pool as kids with him and have a blast! He was a very firm man. He passed away in 1983. Lots of stories of the “bad boys school” but to us growing up it was just a normal place that Pepe worked! Again if anyone has pictures of the home that was where the super lived please e-mail me, I can remember that home and everything about it, inside and out. I just wished I had a picture, I spent so much of my childhood there!! – Colleen
Michele May 28 2008 I remember driving by those old, haunted looking buildings and my father would say if you’re not a good girl your going there! Not much good said about the site, but at least it is getting fixed up.
Bill April 9 2008 There was a picture of all of the training school units, with boys in formation in front of each along with the Sockanosset School Band in Building A (Administration) at the RI Training School
ANNIE DEPALO Mar 6, 2008 i’ve lived in Cranston all my live. I remember as a child , my brother and I would be in the back seat and our parents would say “that’s the BAD boys and girls school... if your BAD.. thats where we are dropping you off” Needless to say... my brother and I were scared everytime we drove by. In the 80’s I remember going to a haunted house with friends on the property. I got so shackin up going through the maze. I have never been able to go into another haunted house again. I am glad they turned the property into a beautiful area where people can shop, live and work, but whenever I drive by, I still see all those abandoned open dorms with broken windows and wonder what those children went through when they lived there many,many years ago.
philgarringer When I was a young’un back in the seventies, my parents always told me that if I was bad, they would send me off to the “Bad Boys” school. I was terrified of the place whenever we drove by that area.
When I was older and read about what they used to do to boys in those big institutions, with people like Margaret Sanger and the eugenics movement and all, well, it boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
jay i spent the first six years of my life living behind garden city on garden city drive (1954-60). like many a young boy i heard “if your not good your going to soccanosett!!” scared the living daylights out of me. we drove by it every day along with the coal mine that was next to it. even scarier. mom would say “every boy that’s gone to explore that coal mine has died in there.” nuff said mom. just the word “soccanosett” was scary. too bad such a beautiful native american word had such a terrible meaning to many children. my uncle was sent there by his father, who was attorney general, back in the 1930’s, as a lesson that he meant business. my uncle turned out to be not very nice… guess the visit did little good. i feel it’s kind of creepy making them into condo’s but am glad they weren’t demolished, beautiful stone work. i’ll never be able to drive by them without shuddering though…
Dave I grew up in California, so i never really saw these buildings before i came upon them sometime in 2003, i believe. I got there at the right time, apparently... during deconstruction, but before any major demolition or changes had been made to the buildings/land. I managed to get some amazing black and white photography done there. It was definitely creepy walking around in those old decrepit buildings... and i can understand why after reading some of the comments on here. Everywhere i walked, the wooden floors that were partially rotting away were creaking, and i felt like i was going to fall through at any given minute. If anyone is interested in checking out the pictures i took, feel free to email me and ill send them over.
Corey Of course it’s wonderful that these buildings are being reused for something (anything), but I have to admit I’m utterly astonished at the total lack of creativity and insight involved in the project. Here, we had an exceptional set of historic institutional buildings, beautifully and solidly constructed, nicely arranged on an attractive piece of land. There were so many possiblities for something truly unique and beautiful to come out of it - something that Cranston desperately needs. I was thrilled to hear of plans to reuse the buildings, and yet when I drive by today I’m disppointed that all anyone could think to do was install another Big Box, complete with requisite sprawling lagoon of parking lot.
Miguel Just to let you all know, the Bones found on the property were from about the 1900s and were from a forgotten Graveyard that seems to lie under Rt 37. NOT from any mysteriously missing child from the training school.
Carmen Duran I grew up in Providence and as a child remember dreading the look of the place as we drove by. I’ve been living in South Florida since 1992 and still have family living in Rhode Island with a brother in Cranston. Recently, my younger sister visted and commented on the place telling me my sister in law told her of the new contruction. We commented on how we always suspected awful things took place there and she told me my sister in law told her that used to be a Boy’s Traing School or correctional facilty. Today I came across this site and was astonished at the bits of information of possible torturing of the children and now bones discovered. I think that due to the possiblity of this place having some sort of terrible past there should be more research regarding the matter before continuing contruction. Maybe a Memorial can be built if not on the enterity of the land in a small portion to all those children that suffered and possibly died there.
Timmie T Chatelain Inmate I lived in all 3 “cottages” in two different tours in “Soko” once when I was 11 (1961) for assault with attempt to do greiviace bodily harm – a nice legal term for atempted murder and again when I was 14 for violation of probation – I am now 56 and a Senior Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State – I can answer one question above – the 3 tunnels he refers too were Steam heating tunnels – they provided heat for the unite and hot water for the showers – we used them to “Run” when we had enough of the abuse, refered to as “discipline” used for any infraction of the “rules” no kid knew all the rules, only the “Cottage Masters” they threw softballs at us when we did something out of line – Softballs left no marks since they were being kneaded constantly by the trustees, there was one bastard – I only knew him as “Sarge” German man – former semi pro basketball player (Providence College I think) he used to throw basketballs at us like Dodgeball when we broke his rules – I did continue my education in Soko was an A student in fact, that cost me dearly as the Cottage masters labled me as a smart aleck – I spent a lot of hours scrubbing the bathroom and shower floors for being smart???
Training school??? yeah, that was the Title, but for the most part, it was a stepping stone to the Big house – I once spent 11 days in solitary confinement for an infraction – Painting a picture when I should have been “studying” I broke “their” rules – all in all, the experience made me an institutional kind of guy, I spent 22 years in the Army , 2 combat tours in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mogdishu, Grenada and as a Dept of State Foreign Officer, becaue of Terrorist activities, eavacuations from Monrovia, Liberia; Freetown Sierra Leone, Phnom Penh Cambodia and Jakarta Indonesia – Yes I am a survivor, I might owe some my toughnest from my experience on “Soko” but I still wake up somtimes with the silence shattered by the sound of a softball crashing into a locker – I was shot, bayonetted and blown up in Vietnam and nothing was as frightening as that sound – he could throw that ball with such accuracey that it wizzed past your head and exploded into the locker next to you... nuff said about that, I am surprised the buildings are still standing... I am a true blue Rhody and have no regrets, but when I read about bones discovered and unidentified, It brings back memories of our “cottage masters” they could have murdered anyone without blinking an eye
Anthony P. Travisono It was wonderful to read some of the words of rememberance of the old training school. I was the superintendent from Jan 1959 to Dec 60, approx two years. My family and I (wife & 5 children) lived in the supt’s house. Our youngest daughter, Jeanne, was christened in the chapel on the grounds by the Catholic priest (forgot his name) whose parish was in W Warwick. Bill Gaulin was the mainstay of the staff of the training school. He and his wife and children lived on Sockanosett Rd in a very old, white house. Bill was not happy when I became supt because I was a liberal and he wasn’t, at least he pretended he wasn’t. I had to go to a meeting in NY one day and called Bill in and told him I was going to be away for 4 days and would he please take care of the kids. He said, “I suppose you want me to give him candy!” I said, “That’s about right.” I knew what he meant and he knew what I meant and from that day on we got along famously.
We had two Picards, father and son, working as Youth Supervisors. They too came from W Warwick as did most of the staff. Old man Picard, as he was know, had a beautiful German Shepard Dog, when she had puppies he gave us one whom we named Princess. She was a part of our family for 14 years, a great dog. Many memories come flooding back- I have a lot of stories to tell-by the way, one more... I was away one evening giving a speech and there was a little “to-do” with one or two of the boys. Ray Palmer, Sr. Supv now deceased, a great guy, called our house and asked for me. My wife said I was out; he then asked my wife what he should do about the situation. She told him she wasn’t the superintendent and that he should call back around 10 pm and talk to me.
I am very pleased to see the improvements being made to the old training school.
concerned Bones were found on the site – probably belonging to a child/children. The place has to be haunted.
Medical Examiner Seeks Help To Identify Bones
06-24-2006 3:42 AM
(Providence, RI) – The state Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed that bones found in the Garden City section of Cranston are human remains. The bones were found Thursday afternoon by a work crew digging in the area. The ME’s Office says the identification of the bones as being human was made visually by an anthropologist at the University of Maine. The investigation will continue in an attempt to provide further information about the remains.
Nite Anyone remember the big red building that was demolished about a decade ago? Anyone have any pictures of it or of its interior, or information on it?
Josh E I grew up in the area as I child I was always interested in the look of those buildings. When i got older I went to school for Photography and used to walk the area all the time. I have done some beautiful Black + White photos of those old buildings and am glad to see them being revitalized into something... Their character is being held onto.
Scott Cameron Ray Interesting stuff. As a child I spent my time at the bottom of the hill from the boy’s detention center. My grandfather “ran the place”, as he told us. His name was Alfred Gaulin – I dont even know if the spelling is correct. His house was the only one there I believe, with Garden City right across the street and a patch of woods behind the house with large rocks and salamanders. He drove his old army jeep to work up the hill. Can someone PLEASE give me info on this man. I know not much about him and I long to. Thank you. Scott
Robert Jaz Doesn’t anyone ever learn form the past?? This entire plot of land is cursed and haunted. I’m not making light of this either – terrible things went on there, as was mentioned above – no rest will ever come to that horrible place and I will never step foot on that land...
Eric I visited there a few years back. I recall there were small tunnels leading out of each of the basements. Does anyone know where they led to?
Mike Walsh I am about to publish a book that has a chapter about my experience as a resident of Sockanosset in 1948. Believe me, at that time it was no picnic. The cover of the book shows the basement as it is today, actually 2000 I think, when I toured the place and took video. It was prior to all the vegetation being removed. I call it the toture chamber. I can still see the man’s face that dished out the punishment.
Paul Grimshaw I love these buildings. Echos of my mother saying “If you’re not good, I’m taking you to Sockanosset!” ring in my head every time I drive by. If lofts or condos ever become available, I’ll try to be first in line. I spent much of my youth avoiding the place and now it’s all I can do to buy a peice of it. Life is so funny.
John I remember in the early 90s, Impossible Dream (a local charity org.) and another group – I think a local special effects company – put on a haunted house in the building adjacent the sockanossett intersection. It was quite a scary adventure. What a setting! I remember the long lines and the good show they put on. Nice to see family fun like that, something missing nowadays due to things like the Station fire.
P Serpa My grandmother was a “housemother” at the old Training School for Girls which used to be north of the Boys School on the right and bordered Oaklawn Ave. A baseball field is there now. She ran the laundry room there and the girls affectionately called her “Mrs. G” because her name (Groslouis) was too long. I used to spend Sundays with her there occasionally as a child because in those days the girls’ offenses were relatively mild compared to the ones today’s youth commit. The girls always made a big deal when I visited and painted with me or played cards or other games. I remember that they had a great deal of respect for my grandmother because she always treated them as if they were her own granddaughters.
andrea Growing up I used to ride past those buildings on a regular basis, as my grandmother lived nearby. I never grew tired of seeing those old buildings and imagining all the things that went on there in the past. Although I guess it’s good that they’re not completely demolishing them, I’m still sad that such a cool piece of history is being turned into yet another shopping center.
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