Founded in 1916

The Foundation was organized at the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Co. in June 1916 by a small group of prominent Rhode Islanders. It was modeled after the first community foundation established in Cleveland two years earlier. "There is a growing belief that the charitable problems of each generation can better be, and should be, solved by the best minds of each generation," the founders wrote.

Jesse Metcalf

The Foundation's first gift

Jesse H. Metcalf, an industrialist and United States Senator, gave the Foundation its first gift of $10,000. Metcalf was a dominant influence in the development of American textiles and a well-known philanthropist and statesman.

One Union Station

The Foundation's home, One Union Station, was originally the main terminal of the Providence train station from 1898 to 1986. Designed by Stone, Carpenter, and Willson and constructed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, the station consisted of five yellow brick buildings. In the station's early days, some 300 trains ran through it each day.

Our building as the main terminal of the Providence train station from 1898 to 1986

As train usage decreased through the decades, Amtrak constructed a smaller facility nearby, and plans were made to convert Union Station into stores and offices.

In April 1987, a massive fire nearly destroyed the historic building. But work continued, and two and a half years later - and $10 million in renovation costs - Cookson America moved its offices into the former main terminal building.

The Rhode Island Foundation purchased the building in April, 1999 for $4.5 million, and moved into its new home in August. We now occupy the third floor of the three-story building and a portion of the second floor.

Since purchasing the building, the Foundation - although it is tax-exempt under the law - has paid property taxes, with payments to date totaling more than $4 million.

Join us as we work together to meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island.