While this incorporates two small open spaces on North Main Street dedicated to park use in the mid-twentieth century, the overall appearance is from the 1980s. Judge Jerome J. Hahn acquired the site of the spring used by Providence’s original English settlers and gave it to the city in memory of his father, Isaac, the first Jewish citizen elected to office in Providence. Norman M. Isham designed the Colonial Revival garden and its enclosing granite wall. Descendants of Gabriel Bernon, the French Huguenot founder of Anglicanism in Providence, gave the grove immediately north a few years later.
By the mid twentieth-century, the several-block-long parcel of landing extending north from Park Row to Smith Street between North Main and Canal Streets was filled with small-scale buildings, some houses, some businesses, and all in declining condition. In 1959, College Hill: A Demonstration Study of Historic Area Renewal recommended clearing the site to create an open space adjacent to the neighborhood beginning to see extensive restoration. Implementation was long in coming, however, with acquisition of all the parcels finally completed in the early 1970s, followed by extensive archaeological study of the site and its history. Albert Veri Associates designed the landscaping finally installed in 1981. The combination of dense trees along the periphery and the curvilinear walkways among the plantings is very much in the picturesque nineteenth-century mode and demonstrates how well this formula continues to work. Park Headquarters in the William Antram House (1738, 1790), at the park’s northeast corner, provides interpretation based on the above-described archaeology. Constant use for a wide variety of activities attests to the success of this appealing open space.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture