Local man brings ‘night light’ back to Superman Building

Local man brings ‘night light’ back to Superman Building

Bob Dionne of Robert Dionne Electrical Contracting fixed the interior lighting on Providence’s Superman Building last week after more than a year of being in the dark. He added a digital timer to the skyscrapers top tower’s light so the building can participate in the city’s Good Night Lights program that signals goodnight to patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital every night at 8:30 p.m.

SMITHFIELD – After a year and a half of no lights, the tower atop the Superman Building in Providence is shining again for the Good Night Lights program thanks to the help of Smithfield’s Bob Dionne of Robert Dionne Electrical Contracting.

Last Friday, the art-deco tower topping the 428-foot skyscraper lit up at 8:30 p.m. for the program, a nightly ritual started by Providence and East Providence Police where lights are directed at Hasbro Children’s Hospital every night at 8:30 p.m. to say goodnight to the young patients.

Dionne is a self-proclaimed “old-school electrician,” learning the ropes working on old electric systems in mills and industrial buildings. He said he prefers to fix things rather than replace them.

Dionne said he understood that the property manager of the building, formally known as the Industrial National Bank Building at 111 Westminster St. in Providence, wanted a fix, not a repair.

Dionne said the light tower built on the roof around the building’s boiler chimney is around 40 feet tall on the inside, and takes about four minutes to warm up. In the past, times were not accurate and the lights would not always go on at 8:30 p.m.

“It’s never going to be late again,” Dionne said.

The lighting had been out due to water damage more than a year ago. He said he has worked on the roof and performed other repairs at the building for 15 to 20 years before taking several days to inspect the lighting system.

“Everyone that came in to look at it with all these grand ideas of doing things. It’s a vacant building. He (the property manager) wanted to keep it running without paying more than he had to,” Dionne said.

Though Dionne billed the manager for the work on the lights, he said the work on the digital timer that will turn on the tower for Good Night Lights was done pro bono.

“Good Night Lights we’re doing out of the goodness of our heart,” Dionne said.

Good Night Lights posted online that the Daily Planet “issued a bulletin” that the Superman Building got its watch fixed and will shine a beacon in the night for the “magic minute-plus” of Good Night Lights.

Dionne said he hasn’t participated in Good Night Lights in the past and is looking forward to his chance to shine his light.

The building, labeled one of the nation’s most endangered places last year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been vacant since its last tenant, Bank of America, left in 2013.

Dionne said he was happy to help put the spotlight back on the building, both literally and figuratively. He said relighting the tower will hopefully motivate preservation efforts on the building.

“I’m for preservation. I know things must move on. I mean, I miss Benny’s,” he said.

Built in 1928, the building picked up the nickname the Superman Building due to its likeness to the Daily Planet depicted in the Superman comics.


Nice job Bob! Great stuff right there!

thank you for bring it back. I'm sure that may people love italso