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-20th 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
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
June 2019 Update
PPS is pleased to share that the main house at 288 Blackstone Boulevard, known as the Beresford-Nicholson Estate and a 2019 Most Endangered Property, will not be demolished! A buyer has been identified to save the 1909/1919 main house from demolition and subdivision; the rest of the large parcel will be subdivided. PPS Executive Director Brent Runyon worked tirelessly with the developer, real estate agent, and concerned neighbors to reach this compromise.
Read East Side Monthly’s March cover story on this issue here.