Double houses as an identifiable form began to appear in Providence in the first decade of the 19th century. For the most part, they were usually simple in plan and symmetrical in exterior articulation with paired identical entrances in the middle of the façade and regularly spaced windows between the entrances and end walls. As the quest for the picturesque came to dominate design in the second half of the 19th century, greater variety of form and detailing came into fashion, superbly realized in the single-family house at 77 Parade Street, also included on this tour. Double houses also became more inflected, as seen here with a cruciform plan, variously configured windows, and elaborate entrance porches. A significant change in entrance orientation also occurred: instead of the principal entrances adjacent to each other on the façade, they are located here on each of the side walls, a configuration that allows greater privacy for each unit and creates more of the feeling of two semi-detached houses.
Preston was a principal in the fruit-and-produce firm Preston & Brown, located at the east end of Pine Street in Downtown Providence, immediately adjacent to the Crawford Street bridge over the Providence River, then the center of the city’s farmers’ market. After living in several locations around the city, he had lived previously a bit farther north on Parade Street. Once here, however, he remained until his death in 1905 at the age of 72.
– 2009 Festival of Historic Houses Guidebook