AIR Redevelop :: Burgess/O’Gorman building
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Burgess O’Gorman buildings


A page of the renovations at Durkee Brown Architects
More info, including leasing info, at
Other Cornish Properties on AIR: Alice Building, Peerless Building


The Burgess and O’Gorman buildings – previously two distinct structures – were rescued from under-use, disrepair, and general neglect by Cornish Associates in 2002-2005. $4.3 millions dollars was spent on the redevelopment, with Durkee Brown Architects at the helm and Dimeo Coonstruction doing the dirty work. Undoubtedly, the buildings are part of the core character of Westminster Street as we know it today. 1st-level retail has helped re-energize the streetfront and bring more people to walk downtown.

The Burgess Building was converted into 8 residential units, while the O’Gorman was converted into 10.


Prepared by Mackenzie Woodward for the Providence Preservation Society:

O’Gorman Building, 1925
Thomas O’Gorman (1860-1944) lived the American dream. Born in Ireland, he came to this country as a child and climbed up the economic and social ladder. He entered the dry-goods business in Newport in the mid-1880s and later worked in Norwalk, Connecticut. He returned to Rhode Island around 1894, opened a small department store at the corner of Westminster and Eddy Streets, and subsequently moved it to the Alice Building. He sold this business and opened a store in Pawtucket in 1910; he retired from the dry-goods business in 1920 and ventured into real-estate development. His real-estate office was located in this building.

This building was one of a number of speculative office buildings constructed in the boom years of the mid-1920s. It was designed and constructed to accommodate an additional four stories to the six constructed in 1925. The peacocks that enliven the exterior articulation, with their tails rising to the top of the building, would have been even more dramatic, if less visible, at the intended final height. In addition to O’Gorman’s real-estate office, the building originally housed a clothing store, a ladies’ milliner, and a purveyor of ladies’ furnishings.

Burgess Building, 1870
George Waterman Cady, architect
Cady, the architect of this building, was one of the last self-trained architects. Until after the Civil War, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduced an architectural course of study, based on that of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, most of the men in this country (and they were only men) who styled themselves as architects apprenticed themselves to builders or designers who had likewise learned from builders. Most of Cady’s work has since been demolished, so this is a rare survivor of the design work of another era. It has the mansard roof so much in fashion in the late 1860s and early 1870s, a feature that relates it to Providence’s City Hall, just around the corner, completed in 1878. The oriel window projecting from the center of the facade on the upper stories is a later addition that very much contributes to the vitality of the design.

Soon after its completion, this was the home of the recently founded Bryant & Stratton Business College, which later relocated to at 40 Fountain Street, now known as The Cosmopolitan. Its later occupants included hairdressers, a sewing-machine repairer, a gold-leaf manufacturer, and the New York Dental Parlors.

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

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