The Providence Preservation Society’s
Festival of Historic Houses
About the Festival of Historic Houses
Now in its 38th year, PPS’s Festival of Historic Houses offers visitors a rare opportunity to step inside more than one dozen private homes, showcasing contemporary living in historic spaces.
This year’s Festival highlights the Upper Elmwood Historic District, centered by Princeton Avenue. The neighborhood offers stunning architecture from one of Providence’s greatest growth periods in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and is both a vibrant and diverse community due to its long history as a portal for immigration.
The Festival begins on June 2 with an exclusive Preview Party at the neighborhood’s showcase Webster Knight House (1897). This substantial Colonial Revival home was built by Robert Knight, founder of B.B. & R. Knight, the original manufacturers of the successful Fruit of the Loom brand. Party proceeds benefit PPS as well as the historic Knight Memorial Library, built nearby as a tribute to Webster and Louisa Knight by their children in 1924, and now part of the Providence Community Library system.
The Festival continues on June 3 with a day of self-guided tours of an exemplary collection of historic properties in Upper Elmwood. Lunch options reflecting the neighborhood’s great cultural diversity will be available. The event’s timing with PVD Fest, the citywide art festival, offers both visitors and residents a robust art and architecture weekend experience.
Providence, Rhode Island, was hailed by the New York Times in its January 52 Places to Go in 2016 list. It is the largest city in the smallest state, and the third-largest city in the New England region after Boston and Worcester. It is centrally located three hours from New York and one hour from Boston.
Providence was founded by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of “God’s merciful Providence,” which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers to settle. Providence eventually became one of the wealthiest cities in America thanks to the Industrial Revolution, which was launched in nearby Pawtucket, and the China Trade which took advantage of the maritime assets of Rhode Island. Providence became noted for its jewelry and silverware industry and was the home of the famous Gorham Manufacturing until the late 20th century. The historic Jewelry District just south of downtown retains many buildings associated with that industry.
Since 2009, Providence has branded itself as the “Creative Capital” to emphasize its educational resources and arts community. The City is the home to Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Johnson & Wales University and several other higher education institutions. The arts community is well-served by AS220, the RISD Museum, New Urban Arts, Trinity Repertory Company, Waterfire, and dozens of other large and small cultural institutions.