Mayors of the City of Providence



27. James E. Dunne (1882-1942)

Served January 1927 to January 1939 (Democrat)

Birthplace: Providence. During the Great Depression, the City assumed the burden of relief, and Dunne proposed various programs. These included City work-relief projects providing jobs at parks, reservoirs, and City Hall. He also proposed borrowing funds in anticipation of taxes to provide direct grants to the needy. In 1930 Dunne removed the property qualification for voting. He served on the Providence Common Council and was chairman of the State Central Committee. (Portrait number twenty-three, located on the fifth floor)


28. John F. Collins (1872-1962)

Served January 1939 to January 1941 (Republican)

Birthplace: Providence. Collins graduated from St. Charles College in Baltimore and attended law school at Boston University. During World War I he was the government appeal agent and legal advisor to the Draft Board for the state of Rhode Island. He was opposed to parking meters, concerned that their installation would be unconstitutional. Collins worked to fight wasteful government spending. For example, he turned down a victory dinner to be held in his honor and initially declined to have his official portrait painted. He later agreed to have one done. (Portrait number one, located in the Mayor's Office)


29. Dennis J. Roberts (1903-1994)


Served January 1941 to January 1951 (Democrat)

Birthplace: Providence. Roberts was an alumnus of Fordham University and of Boston University Law School. In 1939 he was admitted as a member of the Charter Revision Commission which proposed a new structure of government for the city. While serving as mayor during World War II, Roberts took a leave of absence to volunteer for active military duty. He became a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Roberts was responsible for the installation of a Civil Service System, the elimination of dual office holding, the creation of an Office of City Planning, and the establishment of a police training school. He was elected Governor of Rhode Island in 1951, after which he eliminated the poll tax, provided tax exemptions for veterans, and created the state Board of Education. (Portrait number sixteen, located in the Aldermen's Chamber)


30. Walter H. Reynolds (1901-1987)

Served January 1951 to January 1965 (Democrat)

Birthplace: Providence. During his tenure as mayor, he increased financial aid to public schools and constructed six new elementary schools. A master plan for the development of downtown Providence was prepared during his term. Although billed as a blueprint for the renewal of the downtown, it was not implemented. Providence's hurricane barrier is named in his honor. (Portrait number fifteen, located in the Aldermen's Chamber)