Make Yourself at Home

Providence Preservation Society’s Festival of Historic Houses spotlights Paterson Park


Have you ever wondered about that three-story home on Oriole Avenue with the distinctive dark red door, shutters, and trim? It’s known as the 1898 Amey E. and Edward M. Harris House and on June 15 and 16, Providence Preservation Society (PPS) gives you a chance to peek inside it and more during the 39th Festival of Historic Houses. This year’s tour will focus on the Paterson Park neighborhood, an area located east of Butler Avenue and south of the Lincoln School.

According to Brent Runyon, PPS executive director, the event kicks off on the evening of June 13 with a preview party at the Margarethe Dwight house, home of Lincoln School’s head of school. On Saturday from 10am to 4pm, visitors can follow a self-guided tour of about 10 homes using maps and smartphones for additional information. Trained guides will be stationed around the neighborhood and at each home, and Lincoln School will serve as headquarters, where visitors will be able to check out some of the school’s interior spaces, as well.

Sunday will appeal to horror fiction fans. The new guided walking tours will visit the birthplace and childhood neighborhood of writer H.P. Lovecraft. “We’ll also be doing a tour of Gladys Potter Park and tours of the Blackstone Conservation District to highlight the cultural landscape of the neighborhood: the origins, the history, how it’s evolved, what’s being done today to protect some of the great open spaces there,” adds Brent.

The festival is more than just a chance for an inside peek into some of the East Side’s most intriguing historic homes; it serves as a fundraiser for PPS’s education programs and advocacy work to preserve the city’s historical properties. Advance tickets cost $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers. Brent expects 600 to 750 visitors this year.

But don’t expect a warm greeting from Lovecraft’s ghost if you should encounter it on one of Sunday’s tours: “I think that most people only make me nervous,” he penned, “that only by accident, and in extremely small quantities, would I ever be likely to come across people who wouldn’t.”

Visit their website or call 831-7440 for event-day prices, membership information, and additional details about the festival.