- John Blake Read/Joseph Ott House
- Pawtucket Ice Company
- West Avenue Fire Station
- Hose Co. No. 6
- George Fowler House
- Oak Grove Cemetery Lodge
John Blake Read/Joseph Ott House/67 Walcott Street
John Blake Read, a hardware merchant, built this house in 1842. John was born in 1801 in Freeport, ME and later served as a long-time commanding general of the Massachusetts militia. His father had been a prisoner on the Old Jersey prison ship during the American Revolutionary War. In 1862, the Read mansion was purchased by Joseph Ott, founder of Royal Weaving. Ott, born in Germany, came to America when he was 23 to escape military duty. He worked for the Slater Cotton Company and left there to begin manufacturing silk in Central Falls. He eventually moved his mill to the Darlington neighborhood where the building still stands across the street from the Oak Grove Cemetery entrance.
The Greek community in Pawtucket was established around 1896 by a small group of young men who had emigrated from Greece. They rented halls and houses in the downtown area to hold liturgy services whenever a priest was available. By 1910, the community had grown to nearly 75 members and they needed their own building. They purchased property on George Street and in 1912 began constructing a new church building. In 1914, the church was given its official name, Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. In 1966, plans for Interstate 95 forced the church to leave their building, so they moved to Walcott Street and purchased the former mansion house of John Blake Read and Joseph Ott, and held services in the renovated carriage house. The congregation built their current church building in 1967 and renovated the Read-Ott mansion for use as offices and living quarters for the priest.
We urge the church to preserve and care for this house that has so much value not only for its history but also its architectural details. The house contributes so much to the neighborhood and we hope it continues to do so for many more years.
Pawtucket Ice Company, Inc. (1929), Waverly Place/258 Pine Street
The Pawtucket Ice Company was founded in 1857 by Joseph E. Dispeau and Alfred Childs. It first operated from a location on North Main Street (now Roosevelt Avenue). Ice was cut from nearby ponds and reservoirs and stored in ice houses; large-scale refrigeration and artificial ice manufacturing did not yet exist. Horse-drawn wagons delivered ice throughout Pawtucket and Central Falls. In 1928, the Pawtucket Ice Company purchased a lot on Waverly Place and hired the Pawtucket architecture firm of Monahan & Meikle to design a complex of three connected buildings situated around a central courtyard. The ice plant created 75 tons of ice each day and could store up to 500 tons. There was also a barn and a garage; at that time, horse-drawn wagons were still used to deliver ice. Between 1929 and 1931, the Pawtucket Ice Company purchased eleven Ford Model A trucks. The horses were used on flat streets while the trucks serviced the area’s more hilly neighborhoods. By 1933, horses were no longer used and the barn was converted to a garage. In 1953, the Pawtucket Ice Company closed and sold its buildings to the adjacent business, Industrial Specialties Company. In 1960, the company was liquidated.
Though severely deteriorated, the complex still stands at the end of Waverly Place. Because of the significant role the Pawtucket Ice Company had in the city’s history, and because the building complex was designed by Monahan & Meikle (a local and prolific architecture firm), this property is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. We hope to see it cared for by the current owners before being lost for good.
West Avenue Fire Station
After a series of ruinous fires in South Woodlawn, the neighborhood residents lobbied for a new fire station, and in 1911 the city purchased two lots of land from John H. Arnold. They hired architect R.C.N. Monahan to design a new station, and it was built the following year by the Frank G. Rowley Co. It was called the South Woodlawn Fire Station, and after the Fairmount Station (at the corner of Washington and Brown Streets) was closed, South Woodlawn became Station Number 1. It was called a “modern” station because it could accommodate motorized equipment, but perhaps ironically, it’s first fire engine was a converted horse-drawn vehicle. The building also had separate bedrooms for its firemen, and not a one-room dormitory. Much of the original wood work remains in the building, and it contains a Gorham-made bronze plaque listing the names of the officials that were responsible for building the station. One might be curious about why the “Star of David” is inlayed at the top of the parapet. The symbol is a hexagram that was used not only by Jews, but by freemasons and alchemists. In alchemy, the two triangles represent the reconciling of two opposite elements - fire and water. Until now, it has been the only remaining early-era neighborhood fire station to still be used for its original purpose. The city has decided the costs of repairing the building are too great and the station will be closed. We have not yet heard what they plan to do with it.
Hose Company Number 6
(636 Central Avenue)
The Hose Company Number 6 was a fire station built in 1895 to serve the Darlington neighborhood. The station was built by Charles E. Kirk, a Pawtucket resident and building contractor. Kirk later was appointed (in 1897) as a superintendent in the city's public works department. The building is in the Queen Anne style, which was prevalent in America between 1880 and 1910. Along with the old fire station No. 4 at 474 Broadway (an 1890 Queen Anne building), the Hose Company No. 6 was closed in 1974 when the new Cottage Street station (now station # 4) was built. In the late 1970s the Community Development Block Grant program assisted in the adaptation of several historic buildings for new uses. The Hose Co. No. 6 was converted to a restaurant in 1977. The current owners submitted a permit to demolish this building, and plan to erect a dollar store in its place. The demolition permit was delayed by the Historic District Commission; the demolition stay has now expired and we are waiting to see what will happen to the building.
George Fowler House
(72 Mineral Spring Avenue)
This house has been empty and neglected for more than ten years and continues to be an eyesore and a danger to the neighborhood. The house was built in 1915 by George Herbert Fowler, who was a draughtsman for the Providence Tool Company and was treasurer of the Pawtucket Manufacturing Company until his death on January 4, 1895. His wife Lula (Johnson) Fowler, who continued to live in the house long after George’s death, worked as a public school teacher and was an active member of many civic groups. In 2005, before being vacated, the house was re-zoned as a 12-unit apartment house. We would like to see the house maintained and cared for by owners who are invested in the neighborhood, and who understand the dangers of leaving this property unattended and neglected. We want to see the property kept clean and protected from vandalism.
Oak Grove Cemetery Lodge
The Oak Grove Cemetery is one of two city-owned historic cemeteries in Pawtucket. In 1832, when this cemetery was established, it was in Pawtucket, Massachusetts. The existing lodge building near the entrance gate was built in 1896, with approval from the city council, ten years after Pawtucket was incorporated as a city. It was recently discovered that the building’s original bronze bell is still hanging in the belfry tower, having been hidden from public view for many years. The bell was made by the Blake Bell Company of Boston. The company’s owner was William Blake. After apprenticing in the Paul Revere Foundry, Blake established his own company, called William Blake & Co. until about 1890, and later called the Blake Bell Company. The lodge itself housed offices and a waiting room for those meeting with the cemetery superintendent. This building has long been neglected and is regularly vandalized. We are hoping to convince city officials that the bell is a remarkable treasure and that it should be preserved in its original location.