It might be hard to imagine that Benefit Street hasn’t always been considered a special historic area. Many groups worked for years to protect, preserve, and improve the architecture and historic character of the neighborhood. One woman, Margaret…

In 1893, the talented and ambitious young Frances Evelyn Henley, refused to make a career in teaching, as suggested by her parents. Instead she chose to enroll at the Rhode Island School of Design, not in the decorative art department as one might…

Frances Henley’s involvement in the construction of Wheeler School in Providence can be interpreted as a means of positioning herself in the collective memory of the city by linking her name with the values of education. Both Henley and Mary Colman…

How to become respected and how to keep your femininity when doing a male's job? This was quite a burden for Rhode Island's first female architect, starting 1897 when she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. Henley was probably one of…

In 1978, three women engaged in a conversation about the role women professionals could play in changing women’s lives. Within 16 months, they had started a business: the Women’s Development Corporation. Katrin Adam, Susan Aitcheson, and Joan…

From August 13–26, 1978, 78 women from 17 states as well as Canada gathered at Roger Williams College (today Roger Williams University) in Bristol, RI, to discuss the integration of values and identities they held both as women and as designers.…

What should an architect’s new house look like in an historic neighborhood? This is the question that Margaret B. Kelly and J. Peter Geddes had to address when they were designing 29 Manning Street in the 1930s. The small, two-story, brick house…

“Over ten years ago, two women, both lovers of antique Colonial furniture, decided to popularize its beauty by making artistically perfect, made-to-scale doll’s furniture. Equipped with a child’s circular saw, they opened a tiny shop in the…

In 1904, ten women gathered together, led by former school teacher Julia Lippitt Mauran, to form a club in Providence devoted to “the promotion of interest in all kinds of handicraft and to provide a place where such work could be done.” This…

The Smith Hill Library was built in 1932 as part of a Providence Public Library campaign beginning in the mid-1920s to create branch libraries throughout the city. Designer Albert Harkness was a renowned Providence architect of the time who also did…

No organization embodies Providence’s moniker, “The Creative Capital”, more than AS220. Founded in 1985, this organization supports artists by providing housing, studio, exhibit, and performance space in downtown Providence. AS220 began in one…

A fixture of the capital city, the Providence Public Library (PPL) has continuously served the downtown community for over a century. Founded in 1875, the PPL opened at its present Washington Street location in 1900. It added the Empire Street…

Providence’s tightly-knit community of artists and collectors created the Providence Art Club to congregate, create, and display art. It is the second oldest art club in the country after the Salmagundi Club in New York City. The westernmost of the…

The congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church was born from the first independent African-American church in Providence. In 1819, black congregants withdrew from the First Baptist Church and built the African Union Meeting and Schoolhouse. In 1884, an…

Providence was once a city of churches. All Saints' Memorial Church is one of the last of the religious communities that grew on “Christian Hill” in the 19th century. Within a stone’s throw were the Stewart Street Baptist Church, the High…

The yellow-brick, copper-crenellated Providence Armory, one of the most monumental structures in the city, anchors this historic neighborhood of wood-frame buildings and tree-lined streets. Owned by the State of Rhode Island and partially occupied…

Repurposing older structures is a tenet of historic preservation. Here the West Broadway Neighborhood Association practices what it preaches. Since 1983, the WBNA has been one of the strongest and most active neighborhood associations in the city.…

St. Mary's is a Gothic Revival monument to the Irish history of Providence. As textile mills changed the industrial landscape of the city in the early 19th century, Irish from Ulster came to work in those mills, many just down the hill in Olneyville.…

Completed in 1892 to serve the wealthy Episcopalians of Broadway, and home for ten years to the African-American Church of the Savior, this Alpheus C. Morse-designed Romanesque Revival church has been Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church since…

In 1885, there were fewer than 500 Italian-born in Providence; within a generation, over twenty-thousand. In Italy in 1889, Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini’s society sent missionaries to Providence and formed the Holy Ghost parish to serve the…

While some radicals fought against a system that they saw as rigged, other radical acts came from the world of privilege. Alida Sprague Whitmarsh was born into a wealthy family but devoted herself to helping the poor working women of Providence. In…

If Garibaldi Park and the Gateway Arch are the welcoming arms of Federal Hill, DePasquale Square is its beating heart. The quatrefoil fountain and wide plaza were built as part of the Federal Hill revitalization effort. Back in the day, however, this…

Little Compton was once full of Odd Fellows. That’s no insult. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal and philanthropic organization established in seventeenth-century England. It arrived on American shores in 1819, and in 1875,…

“Young man, if you don’t get out you’re going to end up with a little round hole in the middle of your forehead.” The words were polite and calm, but ominous, spoken to a youthful group of summer people during a late night visit to Briggs…

Si tuviéramos que buscar a una candidata que represente a los Dominicanos de Rhode Island, tendría que ser Josefina Rosario. “Doña Fefa” es querida, respetada y honrada como “La Madre de la Comunidad Dominicana.”  Los Dominicanos son…

In June 1830, the residents of Tiverton gathered for the annual town meeting, an opportunity for the freemen of the town to participate in local government. Included on the day’s agenda was a proposal to create a town farm as a refuge for the…