All Spruced Up

Restoration puts a shine on historic Prospect Terrace


Prospect Terrace is an iconic park known for its commanding statute of state founder Roger Williams, as well as panoramic views of downtown Providence. This summer, the park has been getting a makeover, spearheaded by the College Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA) in partnership with the city.

“This is really a jewel of Providence, and it was in rough shape,” says Sara Bradford, a board member of CHNA and a landscape architect whose firm, Bradford Associates, is involved in the restoration. “So many people come here. It really needs to look good.”

Fundraising for the $300,000 project began about two years ago, with the restoration commencing about one year later. One noticeable change is the installation of the jumble cobblestone that encircles the monument to Roger Williams, replacing a mishmash of grass and mud. Other work has included new granite steps to the north side of the monument, redoing the sidewalks framing it, adding a strip of cobblestones between the street and sidewalk behind the park, drainage work, fence repair, and repainting the front metal fence.

Next, some of the remaining sidewalks will be replaced with exposed aggregate concrete. All of the fences will get fresh coats of paint. Some older ornamental trees will be replaced with newer ones. The park will also get new benches and a granite sitting wall in the center.

The plan is to wrap up most of the work by the fall, but some might have to wait until next spring, according to Bradford. When this round of renovations is finished, the park will also be outfitted with an interpretative sign identifying the major buildings in the city skyline and one recapping the history of the park.

The park is steeped in history: Prospect Terrace was created in 1869 by a local merchant named Isaac Hale, along with Civil War general Ambrose Burnside and John Carter Brown, for whom Brown University’s library of Americana is named. H.P. Lovecraft is said to have frequented the park, commenting on its view of the
State House.

Today, the park is a destination for yoga enthusiasts, tourists, and locals looking for a quiet place to read, write, or drink in the view. Bradford says that the ultimate goal of the renovations is to highlight the open beauty of the park. “It draws attention to it being the attractive park that it is,” she says.