W. A. Colwell, builder
This elaborate Queen Anne has been regarded as one of Elmwood’s most imposing. Built for Joseph Birch, a partner in Leavens & Birch – a hat, coat, and small-accessories store located on Westminster Street – the house was slow to be completed. Records show that it was finally finished in 1887, two years after the house next door at 55 Princeton, built for Birch’s business partner, Thomas Leavens.
An asymmetrical design, the house contains a wealth of detail within its compact scale. The elaborate turned-post entrance porch leads to an equally elaborate side porch. A unique feature of the house is the Elizabethan-style porch recessed in the upper story. Wall surfaces vary between clapboards and a textured-shingle program. Attributed to the local firm of Gould & Angell, the house has an exact twin that was constructed in the small village of Attleborough Falls at the same time for the jeweler Frank Sturdy.
Birch occupied this house for only two years. He soon moved to nearby 35 Princeton Avenue, where he lived until about 1899. When 49 Princeton sold in 1889, it marked the start of a long period of frequent changes in ownership. The Providence Revolving Fund acquired the house in 2016 following foreclosure and a great deal of neglect to the interior and elements of the exterior. Efforts are currently underway to convert the house back to the showplace that it was in 1885.
— Festival of Historic Houses Guidebook, 2017
A delightfully articulated and compactly massed Queen Anne house with an identical twin built at exactly the same time (about fifteen miles to the north on Commonwealth Avenue in Attleborough Falls, Massachusetts). The design probably came from the office of Gould & Angell, whose work from the mid-1880s bears strong similarities to this house and included documented commissions in the Town of North Attleborough. This was built for the family of the haberdasher with a store Downtown on Westminster Street, an easy commute on the nearby Broad Street horse car line.
— 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture