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Andrew Johnson, builder

While much of the initial development along Princeton Avenue focused along the block between Broad and Updike Streets, the western half of the street, towards Elmwood, was not fully developed until the 1920s, due to many of the lots being owned by the Knight family.

Webster Knight built his residence at 118 Princeton, but his father Robert retained many of the lots along the southern edge of the street between Webster’s residence and Updike Street. Robert Knight also maintained a series of greenhouses on the southwest corner of Princeton and Updike. Well after Robert died, his heirs began selling off the undeveloped lots still retained in Elmwood. Infill construction of mostly two-family residences finished off the streetscape. At 86-88 Princeton, carpenter Andrew Johnson built a modest two-family Colonial Revival.

Typical of Elmwood in the 1920s, the aesthetic of simplicity reigned. Many of the multi-family houses were of the restrained Colonial Revival order, frequently featuring hipped roofs, wide and numerous windows, and minimal trim. Another common feature was the addition of a sunroom at the front of the house – as seen on the neighbor of 86-88 Princeton. The bay window and projecting pavilions on the Johnson House reflects its asymmetrical neighbors.

Today, the Johnson House remains much in its original form. A third unit was added to the third floor, with the addition of a large shed dormer. Some expected modernization has been done in the bathrooms, however, most of the home’s woodwork remains unchanged.

— Festival of Historic Houses Guidebook, 2017

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.