Large Stately Houses and Creative Lofts Highlight Preservation in Providence, New England's Most Beautiful City

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Providence Preservation Society's 35th Festival of Historic Houses takes attendees from a cocktail party in a former Governor's home to stately residences of successful industrialists to innovated mill spaces boasting views of the city. Get the inside view on June 13, 14, and 15 by registering at

Large, stately residences in the Federal and Greek Revival-style are on view at the Festival of Historic Houses in Providence.

Large, stately residences in the Federal and Greek Revival-style are on view at the Festival of Historic Houses in Providence.

This signature annual event is an opportunity to view firsthand the modern day living spaces in Providence's prized historic properties.

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) announces the 35th Annual Festival of Historic Houses, taking place this year on June 13, 14, and 15. The Festival, known for opening some of Providence’s most interesting houses, gardens, and converted industrial mill spaces to visitors from across the region highlights Providence’s post-industrial heritage through its dynamic housing stock. This year, the Festival visits Providence’s College Hill neighborhood, between Brown University and Fox Point, and Pearl Street Lofts, an industrial mill redevelopment on the South Side. This signature annual event is an opportunity to hear the stories about the properties’ origins and inhabitants, while viewing firsthand the modern day living spaces in Providence’s prized historic properties made possible through preservation.

The 2014 Festival takes attendees from a cocktail party kickoff Friday night at the esteemed Joseph S. Cooke house built on Governor Nicholas Cooke's land (who was in office when Rhode Island declared independence from Great Britain) to a day of open houses Saturday in the last of the farm land on Providence’s East Side to be built upon, leaving houses originally constructed in the mid-1800s to early-1900s. And then continues on Sunday to Pearl Street Lofts, where innovated mill spaces have such features as the original safe built into a living space, and a Moroccan room with rooftop terrace boasting views of the city, thanks to preservation.

Saturday: An enclave of homes within the College Hill neighborhood, between Brown University and the Fox Point neighborhood, offer a range of older houses in the Federal-style originally home of merchants, seamen, and captains, large, stately residences which include the townhouse of a Rhode Island governor, and the dignified Greek Revival houses of traders, bankers, professors and those who prospered in the mid-19th century textile and manufacturing industries. Approximately ten houses will be open for touring in this area, which includes Cooke, Manning and Hope Streets.

Sunday: On the edge of Providence’s south side, Pearl Street Lofts is an old industrial mill complex converted into live, work and retail space. Originally built between 1842 and 1857 and used as a manufacturing facility until 1983, the complex today houses 55 units of rentable, buyable and affordable residences and work spaces.

Pearl Street Lofts and Rice Street Studios are home to several creative endeavors: Studio Dunn is an award-winning furniture and lighting design firm, located in 14,000 sq ft of space in Rice Street Studios. The firm’s founder, Asher Dunn, a Forbes’ 2014 30 Under 30, also co-founded Anchor Providence arts and business incubator space, and Keeseh Woodshop, a community workshop with classes - both located in the same space. DWRI Letterpress, which creates custom art prints on museum worthy machinery, and KITE Architects, one of Rhode Island’s leading architectural firms, are also located at Pearl Street Lofts. Residential units include unique exposed brick, high ceilings, mezzanines and roof top gardens with views of the city.

Houses in the College Hill neighborhood will be open on Saturday, June 14 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Lofts and surrounding tours at Pearl Street Lofts will be open on Sunday, June 15 from Noon – 4:00 pm. The weekend event will also include a ticketed kick-off cocktail party on Friday evening at the Joseph Cooke House on Hope Street. The Friday evening event is a special fundraiser for PPS, and opens the weekend of tours with cocktails, hors d’oeurves and celebration. On Sunday, KITE Architects will host a special open house reception from 3:00 – 6:00 pm as an extension to the Festival tour.

Tickets purchased in advance are $35 per day for PPS members/$40 per day for non-members. Advance two-day tickets are $75. Day-of tickets are $45. The Friday evening cocktail event is $125. For more information, call Angela Kondon at PPS at 831-7440, or visit

Formed in 1956 to respond to the proposed demolition of a number of 18th- and early 19th-century houses on College Hill, the Providence Preservation Society (PPS) has grown from a small neighborhood group to a multifaceted citywide preservation organization. With a large membership, a professional staff, and countless volunteers, PPS is able to provide a broad range of services that fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life in the City of Providence through historic preservation and the enhancement of the built environment. For more information, visit

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Lisa Carnevale
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