The John and Thomas Hope Company was a significant vestige of Providence’s industrial past. Founded in 1847, the Company pioneered a new method of pantography: a method of calico printing using etched metal rollers to engrave patterns without the use of dye, clamps, or machine work. It was one of many small businesses in Providence whose success relied on the invention of a new product, from paper flowers to novelty jewelry, and arguably rested on pure “Yankee ingenuity.” By the 1880s The John and Thomas Hope Company was the sole provider of pantography equipment in the United States and Europe. In 1882, the Company built its new facilities at One Mashapaug Street. Shortly thereafter in 1890, the company was formally incorporated.
The John and Thomas Hope Company factory was a stout, three-and-one-half-story brick building with granite sills, segmental arch windows and a low pitched roof. The variety of light industrial uses the structure following the departure of the Hope Company in 1937 testifies to its functional utility. Occupied mainly by Koffler Trunk Company from 1937 to 1960, the building also housed wire-makers, florist suppliers, foam producers, and several other different industries until 1975 at which time it became a furniture storage facility. Abandoned since the mid-1980s, the building and its grounds suffered from neglect.
LOST: When it was included on the 2002 Most Endangered Properties list, the John and Thomas Hope Company Building stood vacant. Its continued deterioration prompted neighbors to complain of rat infestation and blight. Located in the blossoming Elmwood neighborhood, the John and Thomas Hope Company building had enormous reuse possibilities as commercial and residential space. Nestled in what has been a mixed use area since the building’s construction, any number of uses from office space to retail to lofts were possible. The building was included in the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District (ICBD), which made it potentially eligible for tax credits. Unfortunately, the building was demolished. As of February 2019, it is now a vacant lot.
Share your Story
Something to add? An edit or correction to suggest? Community input about the history of these important places is welcome. All submissions are reviewed before posting.