Share This

In its 110-year history, only two Providence families have owned this large estate on Blackstone Boulevard. The
stone and stucco house was built in 1909 by William Beresford and designed by Clarke, Howe & Homer in the
Elizabethan Revival manner. In 1919, Beresford sold the property to Paul Nicholson, who engaged Jackson,
Robertson & Adams to enlarge it; the property is still in the hands of the Nicholson family.

In addition to the main house, the extensive grounds include a playhouse (1930), cow barn (by 1926), formal
garden, and garden shed (by 1937), all surrounded—and largely hidden—by an eight-foot stuccoed perimeter
wall. In the mid-20
th century, the Nicholson family sub-divided the property into three lots and created two new
street addresses on Slater Avenue, the west border of the estate. The chauffeur’s quarters and garage (1924-
25) are located at 315 Slater Avenue; it is the charming cottage-style residence built into the wall on Slater
Avenue. Additionally, there is a caretaker’s cottage (ca. 1920) at 325 Slater Avenue with an adjoining
greenhouse (a 1990s replacement of the original 1920s predecessor).

This unique property represents one of the last remaining large estates in the Blackstone neighborhood. With a
sale pending, a developer has applied for a major re-subdivision to create ten developable lots out of the
three existing. Permission for demolition of the house and ancillary buildings does not require approval from the
Historic District Commission because the property is not within a local historic district. It is located within the
Blackstone Boulevard-Cole Avenue-Grotto Avenue Historic District on the National Register, an honorary
designation.

To date, the developer’s master plan application has been approved by the City Plan Commission and the
project will continue through subsequent levels of review. Many neighbors have come out to voice opposition
to the demolition of the buildings and concern over re-subdivision as drawn, loss of historic trees, traffic
implications, curb cuts, and penetration of the historic wall. PPS continues to monitor the situation.

– 2019 Most Endangered Properties

© 2019 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved.
Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.