Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pawtucket "Officially" Historic

Now downtown Pawtucket, Rhode Island is more than just of old buildings. It's officially a bunch of old, "historical" buildings.

Downtown Pawtucket has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission announced today.

“The architectural and civic character of Downtown Pawtucket is preserved in this collection of solid historic buildings,” Edward F. Sanderson, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement. “Downtown’s historic core is important to Pawtucket’s heritage, and these structures are a resource for attracting new investment and revitalization.”

The district comprises 50 buildings on about 14 acres of land in the city’s central business district, two blocks to the west of the Blackstone River. “With its collection of architecturally significant banks, shops, offices and civic buildings, the Downtown Pawtucket Historic District represents the city’s growth as a prosperous industrial city between the Civil War and World War I,” the Preservation & Heritage Commission said in its announcement.

...the Blackstone’s 30-foot drop at Pawtucket Falls had made the region a magnet for early industrial efforts including Slater Mill, and the booming manufacturing economy attracted housing, institutional and civic buildings and commercial development.

The 1870s through 1890s, the state Preservation & Heritage Commission said, saw the replacement of horse-drawn streetcars with a street railway system, the advent of public utilities and the beginnings of a new central business district where small wood-frame shops and houses gave way to masonry structures up to five stories tall.

“The Downtown Pawtucket Historic District encompasses examples of all of these building types,” the commission said.

“North of Exchange Street stand three wood-frame residences that predate Pawtucket’s urban boom: two Italianate-style cottages on Grant Street and a Second Empire-style house on Montgomery Street.

“Fine examples of commercial buildings include the Late Victorian-style Beswick Building (1891) and the massive Summer Street Stables (1892) with its terracotta plaque containing the biblical verse, ‘How Do The Beasts Groan.’

“Municipal and institutional buildings like the Deborah Cook Sayles Memorial Library (1899-1902, designed by the Boston firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson) and the Colonial Revival-style Pawtucket Boys Club (1902) embody the wealth and civic ambitions of this maturing city.”

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