Two Days of Providence History

By Kyle Hoepner

The Providence Preservation Society’s annual Festival of Historic Houses is always a welcome chance to spend some quality design-scouting time in what, to my eye, is one of the loveliest and most interesting mid-size cities in the U.S. This year, however, we get double the opportunities for scenic ogling as the festival branches out to cover two separate, and quite contrasting, urban neighborhoods.

The society’s thirty-fifth round of tours begins on Saturday, June 14, in the College Hill area, near Brown University on Providence’s East Side. Approximately ten houses will be open for touring in this neighborhood, which boasts quite a few choice Colonial and Victorian specimens.

Three characteristic homes on Providence’s East Side. Photos by Warren Jagger, courtesy of the Providence Preservation Society

The tour continues on Sunday, June 15, across town at the Pearl Street Lofts on the edge of Providence’s South Side. This historic mill complex was converted into live-work and retail space in 2002–04. Also open on Sunday will be a number of design-related businesses in the area: Studio Dunn, the Anchor Providence arts and business incubator, Keeseh Woodshop, DWRI Letterpress, and KITE Architects.

The Pearl Street Lofts. Photos by John Gruen.

One loft unit that will be available for touring belongs to Tripp Evans, professor of art history at Wheaton College. The six-acre Pearl Street Lofts site will be the subject of his next book, which will delve into the geological, Native American, Colonial, and industrial history of the area. As it happens, an earlier incarnation of Evans’s loft was featured in New England Home back in 2007. Click here to check it out.

The dining area of Tripp Evans’s unit at the Pearl Street Lofts, as it was in 2007. Photo by John Gruen

The festival will also include a ticketed kick-off cocktail party—a special fundraiser for the Providence Preservation Society—on Friday evening at the Joseph Cooke House on Hope Street. Call the society at (401) 831-7440 for more details.

Providence Preservation Society 2014 Festival of Historic Houses
June 13–15, 2014
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

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