At the turn of the twentieth century, the sudden arrival of European immigrants to Providence led to the hurried construction of multi-family homes throughout the city. A high concentration of these homes developed along Oakland Avenue; today the two- and three-story porches of these architecturally significant houses define and distinguish the historic streetscape. Unlike the tenements found elsewhere throughout the city, the Oakland Avenue homes were designed specifically for middle-income families. Within the spacious triple deckers, each of the three units featured large parlors, dining rooms, and three to four bedrooms. In 1984, the Oakland Avenue Historic District was listed on the National Register. Oakland Avenue was named for the large Oakland estate that extended west from the avenue to Huxley Avenue.
In the latter half of the 20th century, lack of interest and investment among absentee landlords in many of the houses throughout the Oakland district resulted in their rapid deterioration. These homes had reached a critical point in their lifespan, specifically 70 to 90 years after their construction, at which time they were especially vulnerable to structural damage in addition to the loss of character-defining architectural features. In many cases, owners had compromised the architectural integrity of the homes by replacing original materials and features with synthetic materials such as aluminum or vinyl siding and completing architecturally incongruous renovations. PPS included the Oakland Avenue porches as part of an advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the importance of the buildings and their features while advertising financial incentives available to property owners within the district. This is an on-going issue.