Two houses for sisters-in-law, both designed by the Boston firm of Parker, Thomas & Rice (garnered thanks to a sibling’s marriage), these textbook illustrations capture the ability of strong, early twentieth-century architectural firms with well-trained partners to produce almost-infinite varieties of highly successful revivalist confections for their demanding clients. Ellen Sharpe’s Tudor Revival house, number 87, came first. Occupying a lot equaled only by that of the Woods House, it assumed a different, private posture, removed from the street behind a wall unlike Woods, which at least visually engaged the street a bit more. Her sister-in-law’s house across the street at number 84 (now called Rochambeau House, pictured here), is based on the eighteenth-century French country houses she so loved, here somewhat loosely interpreted. Mrs Sharpe was an avid gardener and landscape devotee, with many accomplishments: from the campus of Brown University, alma mater to her husband and her son, to the street-tree fund that still continuously provides trees to the city’s neighborhoods. The garden here is definitely worth a peek. Mrs Sharpe left the property to Brown University for use by Romance-language departments, and it still exhibits her exquisite sensibilities.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture
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