Six- and seven-story commercial blocks with display windows on the first story here and in the next block define the heart of Providence’s historic retail center. This format obtained from the creation of the city’s first department store, Walker & Gould’s Callendar, MacAuslan & Troup, in the third quarter of the nineteenth century through the 1920’s, when the jazzy O’Gorham building (220 Westminster Street), replete with stylized peacocks splayed across its facade, was completed. Its days as a bustling shopping Its days as a bustling shopping center, however, are long gone. Since the 1970s, small-scale inexpensive operations have filled the few occupied storefronts, and most upper stories remain vacant. Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, a Providence rock music institution, moved to the old Callendar, McAuslan & Troup store (239 Westminster Street) in the 1980’s, when any more intensive use, however raffish, seemed tolerable. But as the residential rehabilitation of commercial space, like Cornish Associates’ development of loft apartments across the street in the Alice Building (236 Westminster Street), began to catch on in the early years of the twenty-first century, the scruffy clientele at Lupo’s has became increasingly estranging.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture