West Avenue Fire Station | John H. Crawford House | Hose Co. No. 6 | Mitchell-Arnold House | George Fowler House | Oak Grove Cemetery Lodge | Friendship Garden, Slater Park | Pawtucket City Hall

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.

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John H. Crawford House
(15 Park Street)

The R&G Cushman Company was established in 1848 to manufacture spools for winding cotton and silk thread. Ten years later, the company moved to its second and permanent location at 5 Central Avenue in the Pleasant View neighborhood of Pawtucket. In 1874, the company became known as the Atwood-Crawford Company, since it was at that time owned by Abner Atwood and John H. Crawford. The factory for many years was known as the oldest and largest spool manufacturer in the country. The factory building is still on Central Avenue. John Crawford built his home in 1869 at the corner of Park and Laurel Streets, where it still stands today. It is one of the oldest and most historically significant houses in Pleasant View. The current owners care a great deal for it and are working to restore it. The unfortunate circumstance for this house is that the lot in front of the house, once Crawford’s front lawn from which he could view his factory, has been separated from the house and has different owners. A permit was granted to build an apartment building on the empty lot. The distinctive front façade of the Crawford House will be forever hidden from view.

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.

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Mitchell-Arnold House
(41 Waldo Street)

The Mitchell-Arnold House at 41 Waldo St. in Pawtucket is architecturally significant as an exceptionally picturesque late Victorian suburban cottage. The original portion was erected in 1871 for James W. Mitchell, a clerk employed by the Pawtucket coal and lumber dealers, Smith, Grant § Company. In 1886, Mitchell sold the property to John H. Arnold, a Pawtucket real estate and insurance man. Indications are that it was John H. Arnold who commissioned the major additions. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Update: The house is now being renovated by new owners. They were not able to keep the front porch, but we’re happy to see this house being used and cared for once again.

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.

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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.

Friendship Garden, Slater Park

The pond here was created in 1913, but the surrounding garden was not designed until 1935.  The project was directed by park superintendent Lawrence Corrente and sponsored by the Pawtucket Rotarians as part of their International Friendship Program.  The Pawtucket Rotary Club planted this garden with 67 trees to represent the countries in which rotary clubs had been established. The flowers and plants represent those mentioned by Shakespeare in his works.  By 1975 the garden, which had become severely neglected, was restored.  The work was again supervised by Lawrence Corrente, who had retired, but agreed to be re-employed for the project.   The garden is now severely overgrown after having been neglected for many years.  Though we understand if it can’t be restored to its original plan, we would like to see this garden kept clean and inviting for visitors to the park.

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Pawtucket City Hall

Pawtucket City Hall was constructed in the years 1933-1935 and is an outstanding example of the Art Deco architectural style. The central tower of the building is 209 feet high and is capped with a tomahawk weathervane. The tower originally bore an elaborate cast-stone ornamentation of eagles leaning out on each corner, but these were allowed to deteriorate and one eagle fell in 1974.  In 2005, City Hall Tower was restored to its original design, without the corner eagles.  The facade of Pawtucket City Hall’s main block displays twelve cast-stone bas-relief panels that depict people, buildings, scenes, and events from the city’s history.  The building’s architect was John F. O’Malley, who also designed the Leroy Theater (1921, demolished), Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet (1915, in Cranston), the Elks Building on Exchange Street (1926), and many other buildings in the state.  Art Deco is a style of visual arts, architecture, and design that first appeared in France just before World War I.  The style represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress. It combined very expensive materials and exquisite craftsmanship in modernistic forms.  Smooth and polished materials, such as chrome, stainless steel, and bakelite were popular.  The 1929 Industrial Trust Building in downtown Providence, and the 1936 Pawtucket City Hall building are two of Rhode Island’s best examples of Art Deco.