1445 Wampanoag Trl # 201 Riverside, RI 02915-1019 | (401) 433-0044 | info@RIHeritageHallofFame.org
When Lloyd Bliss passed away at the age of 90 on November 10, 2001, the State of Rhode Island lost a man who is arguably one of the foremost pioneers of business in not only our state, but in the entire nation.
The husband of the late Estelle (Leif) Bliss, father of Dan and Jane, father-in-law of Hall of Fame inductee Aram Garabedian, and grandfather of Gary and Lisa. Mr. Bliss was known far-and-wide for his determination and professionalism, and for the spirit with which he tackled some of the most difficult obstacles.
He had vast real estate holdings in downtown Providence including many parking lots and buildings, and in 1958 he developed Newport’s first modern shopping center, the “Bellevue Gardens” on up-scale Bellevue Avenue.
His signature building, however, was the Warwick Mall, in which he was the key developer in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Not an easy task, he and his partners turned a gravel pit and vegetable farm at the intersection of Routes 95 and 295, bordered by busy routes 2 and 5, into over a million square feet of retail space. In doing so, they literally changed the shopping habits of Rhode Islanders, who traditionally shopped along the streets of Providence, to the middle of the state in a modern new building. Since the Mall opened, shoppers from throughout southern New England have travelled to enjoy some of the nation’s best retailers.
Lloyd was a star athlete at Hope High School, where he played both football and basketball and was chosen by his teammates to be captain of the basketball team. After graduation he attended Cornell and Brown Universities but dropped out of Brown during the Great Depression to work in the family’s furniture business, Rhode Island Supply.
Lloyd was involved in numerous civic and professional groups including service as a Trustee of Roger Williams University and Treasurer of the Blackstone Park Improvement Association, as well as a longtime member of the prestigious Aurora Civic Association. In the mid-1970s he was Chairman of the Providence Civic Center, until he developed political differences with then Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr.
Mr. Bliss was very supportive of Rhode Island’s many community-based organizations, not only giving his generous financial assistance but also by making his Mall facilities available to countless organizations and non-profits, most notably as the site of the refurbished Rhode Islanders will also recognize some of Lloyd’s other marquis buildings, either owned or co-owned, including Bliss Place on Waterman Street, site of the Armenian Historical Society, the Union Trust Building, the Civic Center Parking Garage, the Amica Building on Weybosset Street and the Packet Building on South Main Street. It would be difficult to imagine Rhode Island without some of his signature structures.
It would be a grave omission not to celebrate the life of this titan of business, friend of the community, and dedicated family man. We do so today by inducting him into Rhode Island’s most prestigious historical organization – the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.