Houses with History

The PPS Festival of Historic Houses returns June 1-3


We all know the signature East Side sights: historic houses, tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks, old, shuttered windows and uneven stone steps. We pass them every day as we walk, bike and drive through the picturesque roads on our way out to work or school. We have memorized the architecture, gates and gardens, but do we actually know what’s inside?

Here is your chance to appreciate the rich history that is right here in Providence, with the annual Festival of Historic Houses. This year, the Providence Preservation Society (PPS) is hosting the festival for the 33rd year, from June 1-3.

The festival investigates the history of our state’s capital, which dates back nearly 400 years. With time, neighborhoods have evolved to a charming blend of quaint nostalgia and convenient modernity. In 2011, our beloved College Hill was named one of the 10 Best Neighborhoods in America by the America Planning Association, attracting tourists from all around and bringing pride to Rhode Islanders all over the state.

The Festival of Historic Houses gives us an inside look at the wonders that lie right within our city, kicking off on Friday June 1 with the Providence Sunset Soiree – enjoy a beautiful view of Providence’s skyline from a private rooftop garden at the new Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School building. June 2 brings attendees on the House and Garden Tour, a “behind-closed-doors” view into some extraor- dinary private houses around Elmgrove Avenue.

On the final day of the festival, take a visit to the Jewelry District – a former industry and manufacturing center, which has become a vibrant city hub and serves a wide array of uses – from luxury lofts to artist studios to entrepreneurial businesses. See the creative renovations of 19th- and 20th-century industrial buildings and the very first condominiums in Providence.

The event is sponsored by PPS, which was founded back in 1956 in response to proposed demolition of some 18th- and early 19th-century homes on College Hill. Its stated mission is to “improve the quality of life in the city of Providence through historic preservation and the enhancement of the built environment.” PPS also supports city advocacy, homeowner resources and many other events and programs. This festival serves the purpose of educating and fundraising for the PPS cause.

Don’t miss out: tickets to Friday’s tour are $50 each, Saturday or Sunday tours are $35 each in advance and $40 on the day of the event, and a ticket to all three can be purchased for $100.