An interesting house, built in two stages, entwined around an equally interesting history. As attorney Benjamin F. Thurston approached the marriage of his daughter Ellen DeForest (1857-1939) to businessman John R. Gladding (1858-1931) in May of 1886, he purchased the lot on which this house stands, in January of that year. In March of 1886, he placed the property in trust, and shortly after the wedding began construction on the eastern section of this house, which the newlyweds occupied in 1887. The trust survived until his wife’s death, which did not occur until 1909. No sooner had her mother died — and the house passed unrestricted to her — did Ellen Gladding construct the large two-story wing to the west and vastly enlarge the service ell to the north, additions that increased the house’s value by 36 percent.
Mr. Gladding was a clerk for several local firms before settling in 1895 at Arnold, Peck & Co., chemical manufacturers; the firm became Arnold, Hoffman & Co. in the 20th century, and Mr. Gladding rose to the position of Secretary. The childless Gladdings continued to live here until their deaths, although they spent their summers in Thompson, Connecticut. Only one other family lived here between Mrs. Gladding’s death and its purchase by the present owners.
What we see today is the house substantially as it looked upon the completion of the 1909 additions. The exterior’s two sections are seamlessly integrated with no abrupt transitions across the 23-year divide between them, but the emphatic horizontality of the 1909 addition is a splendid foil for the verticality of the original. Inside, the ample living hall, replete with inglenook-like seating at the foot of the stairs and opposite the fireplace, connects the intimate parlor on the east, the dining room on the northeast, and the dramatic, slightly sunken library on the west, in the addition, with its leather-covered walls beautifully buffed. The butler’s pantry is completely intact, even to its replication of the original paint color.
The present owners have lovingly restored the house. Of particular note are the windows, all original, which were carefully removed, restored, and replaced. Now as tight to the weather as new ones, they provide an object lesson — both visually and functionally — in the practicability as well as the visual impact of retaining, not replacing, historic windows.
– 2009 Festival of Historic Houses Guidebook
Two remarkably different houses lead by local architects Gould & Angell and a smooth composition by out of towner J.B. Goodwin – all at the intersection of Stimson Avenue and Diman Place. Gould & Angell’s Thurston-Gladding House is low, broad, and sprawling, with a horizontality unusual for their work and, in general, for the 1880s. Across the street, their Cross House (36 Stimson Avenue) has lively juxtapositions of materials and massing – for example, the large octagonal tower emerging from the mass on the west wall and the dainty round pavilion extending the porch on the southeast corner. Goodwin’s house (33 Stimson Avenue) probably designed by a relative (this is his only commission in Providence), remarkably simple, with detail largely restricted to surface texture and massing.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture