PHILIP WALKER HOUSE - 1724
432 Massasoit Ave.
East Providence, RI
Potential for Urban Farming
Preserve RI has been brainstorming ideas for the future of the property. Recently we learned of Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, a property owned by Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI) that was rehabilitated as the headquarters and education center for the Urban Farming Institute. A site visit last year inspired us to consider Walker House as a possible location for a live-in urban farmer. Working with a team of Preserve RI trustees, the Southside Community Land Trust and East Providence Planning Department, Preserve RI staff developed and released an RFP for farmers in May. We're hoping this could lead to a productive new use for the house and land.
Stay tuned for updates!
One of the few surviving examples of Rhode Island’s transitional period in domestic architecture.
Sitting prominently on two acres at the intersection of North Broadway and Massasoit Avenue in the Rumford section of East Providence, the Philip Walker House was constructed in several stages, the first being about 1724.
A Landmark in History
The Walker House holds great historical significance to the City of East Providence and to the State, noted as the earliest house in Rhode Island built completely of mill sawn timbers. It was once thought to be the second oldest house in Rhode Island, but continuing investigation, including a dendrochronology study to date the year the trees used to build the house were felled, leads to the 1724 date of construction now assigned to it.
The house retains much of its historic detail, but has been modified over the years with additions and alterations in the late 18th century, late 19th century and mid 20th century. It remains an intact example of how a house was used, cared for, adapted and repaired over its 284 year lifespan. Preserve Rhode Island has been steward of the house and property since 1982.
Click on slideshow for full view.
Protecting the Past Today
In 2008, PRI undertook a major rehabilitation - repairing structural deficiencies and updating systems, the bathroom and kitchen - for use as a full-time residence for PRI's Property Manager. In 2015, PRI developed a Study House Program to increase public use of the property, particularly for architectural history and historic preservation students, who can benefit from first-hand observations of architectural features.
Study House Program
The c. 1724 Philip Walker House is available as a study house for individual or groups of undergraduate or graduate students. The complexity of the structure’s architectural history – built during the transition from First Period to Georgian architecture and then undergoing numerous building campaigns – makes Walker House an exceptional field study opportunity. Located at the corner of North Broadway and Massasoit Avenue in East Providence, Rhode Island, the Philip Walker House is one of the few surviving examples of Rhode Island’s transitional period in domestic architecture.
The Study House Program guides students on how to “read” a non-standard structure and understand its history and building evolution through architectural evidence. Students benefit from first-hand observations of architectural features informed by historical research and on-site analysis.
This program is appropriate for architectural history students and affinity groups with some previous knowledge of early New England building traditions and architecture. For more information contact Property Manager Paul Trudeau by email or (706) 224-4344.
The Study House Program was funded in part by a grant from the Antoinette F. Downing Fund for Rhode Island of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Roger Williams University.