Other Cool Things

A Splendid House in a Limbo State

In the late 1980s and 1990s I lived in Newport, Rhode Island. Providence is the state capital, and a wonderful city. Of course, its urban fabric was damaged after WWII, like when two highways were rammed through the city. Sigh.

Providence is an old city, and during the Colonial-era one of its elite neighborhoods was just east of downtown, College Hill (so-named because this is where Brown College is located).

Time passed, the elite moved on, College Hill became slum-like, and its many Colonial-era houses were converted into rooming houses and apartments.

The elite had moved west of downtown and built a series of splendid mansions along Broadway.

Time passed, and this elite neighborhood was eclipsed. Many of its mid- to late-19th-century mansions were demolished and replaced by commercial buildings, while others were converted to rooming house, apartments, funeral homes, offices, etc.

In the latter part of the 20th-century, College Hill was rediscovered, and it is today the elite neighborhood it was 200-years-ago.

Not so with Broadway.

Things are better than they were in the 1950s, and a number of surviving grand mansions have been restored.

But when I lived in Rhode Island, one mansion in particular captured my special attention. It was not in poor condition, nor restored. It seemed in a limbo state; not being allowed to fall in decay but nor being brought back to its late-19th-century splendour.

And what splendour it must have been.

 

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The Jerothmul B. Barnaby House at 299 Broadway, Providence, Rhode Island. The house is on the NW corner of Broadway and Sutton. In 1885, the original 1875 structure was enlarged by the addition of a four-story tower, and round conservatory.

 

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Golly. The 1885 conservatory blows my mind, and I ache to restore it. We don’t create stuff like this anymore.

 

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Ignore the stated address, it is wrong.

 

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The side of the house on Sutton. It is frankly astonishing that the house is so intact.

 

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Behind the house is this extraordinary converted carriage house. Did it once belong to the big house?

 

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Just fabulous. Just fabulous. Just fabulous.

 

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This image dates from 2011 (the previous images are all 2014). The house is surrounded by greenery. What happened? Oh, great pile next door!

 

I last saw the house in 1995, and when it popped into my mind today (whatever happened to that amazing house with the conservatory?), I did what was not possible in the 1990s: While sitting in Kansas, I “walked” in front via Google Streeview. And “took” pictures. Thank-you Google!

The house, to my deep surprise, looks exactly like it did when I last saw it. Not better. Not worse. Just seemingly frozen in maintenance limbo.

Some research shows that the house has been on the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Properties List in 1999, 2000, 2011, and 2012.

Sigh. I was so hoping that a wealthy gay couple had spent the last decade lavishing money on the house. I was so hoping that the conservatory was fully restored and filled with exotic plants.

Oh well. At least the house is still around. At least it is not falling apart. And it is impressively intact.

I would kill to see the interior.

Google? When is Insideview coming out?

 

UPDATE

I am freakin’ out!

Interior images!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

5 Responses to A Splendid House in a Limbo State

  1. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath for this house until I saw the linked interior images and blogpost about renovation. Google’s street view photos are often taken many years ago, and sometimes very outdated to base any assumptions. Thanks for the post, I LOVE these old houses. I always wanted one, suppose I still do, but I already have my hands full on this hillside. At least a girl can still dream with people like you who make it easy to find the spark. G:-)

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