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Smith Hill Historic District is a densely built urban residential neighborhood characterized by a variety of housing types and styles. It is located in the Smith Hill neighborhood of Providence, just northwest of the
city’s central business district and west of the state capital complex; it covers an area of approximately eight acres and contains a total of forty-one nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings and eleven
outbuildings. The development pattern, with earlier single-family and double houses’ and later multiple-family and small-scale single-family houses, represents in microcosm a once-larger neighborhood now lost. Smith Hill Historic District remains as an isolated pocket demarcated by new construction to the north, the interstate highway to the east, an industrial complex to the south, and vacant lots and development different in character to the west.

The larger neighborhood and the smaller district take their name from Smith’s Hill, a landform which rises abruptly from the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers on the south and east, and spreads more gently to rolling hills toward the north and west. The district lies on the steep south-facing hillside, and its major north-south spine, Holden Street, connects two major thoroughfares, Smith Street, the principal street through the neighborhood, at the top of the hill, and Promenade Street at the bottom; east-west streets regularly intersect Holden Street. The predominantly residential district is characterized by lots generally of irregular sizes, most 3000 to 5000 square feet. Buildings are generally set close to the sidewalk and have very small rear or side yards. Outbuildings are predominantly garages. All but 4 of the buildings are contributing.

The district is dominated by residential buildings constructed between 1850 and 1930, most after 1870. Most of the dwellings are two-and-one-half or three-and-one-half stories with clapboard or wood shingle siding. The forms and programs of many of the residences are similar, but a variety of architectural styles are represented, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival.  Contributing early twentieth-century garages are constructed of both wood and concrete block. There are two contributing early twentieth-century commercial and institutional buildings, Regine Motor Sales and St. Patrick’s School, both masonry buildings on Smith Street. All of the buildings remain occupied, and most are used for their original purpose. They generally remain well preserved, with only a small amount of modern or synthetic siding. Where alterations exist, they are primarily new siding, window and door replacement, or porch alteration.

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.