Two Thomas Street

4-story new construction marries a 2-story Greek Revival 150 years younger at the base of College Hill

About this Property

#The Project

An early new construction project in Providence, Two Thomas Street replaced a two-story commercial building and joined new architecture to a mid-19th century structure. Five condominiums were created — three in the new building and two in the renovated attached Greek Revival house. Between the two structures is an entranceway and elevator.

In the words of an archived version of the Armory Revival Website:

Following upon the success of 101 North Main Street, this project re-developed a prominent corner at the edge of downtown and the foot of College Hill, once again raising the bar for high-end residential development in Downtown Providence. It included razing a nondescript two-story masonry building in the historic district, while saving and restoring the attached 1850 Greek Revival house, the former home of the Providence Watercolor Society. Designed by David Hacin Architects of Boston Mass., 2 Thomas Street features five luxury condominiums and a small café in a landmark building, anchoring one of Providence’s most architecturally important streetscapes. [Significant nearby] properties include the 1885 Fleur de Lys building built and owned by the Providence Art Club and the 1775 First Baptist Church in America.

#Design Reception

Its grown on us. While it is not our favorite building built in the past 20 years, it is unique and it offers some great interior spaces bathed in natural light, thanks to the many windows. The exterior has aged well, so the materials used appear to be of quality. The turret-and-crown is a bit much, perhaps, but it does certainly make a statement in an area with many other strong architectural statements.

If anyone is interested in what the interiors look like, plenty of old listings are available on real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Residential Properties.

#History

History is a bit hard to find. Some facts of note:

1889
A building of roughly the same footprint occupied this site in an 1889 Sanborn Map with addresses 79-89 North Main Street.
1937
A G.M. Hopkins insurance map shows a building with similar footprint at this location but the name labelled on it can not be read.
1956
In a Sanborn Map from this year, a building with similar footprint is labelled “Community Workshops of RI”
1968
From Providence College’s “The Cowl” newspaper, an advertisement listing for:
SAL CARVELLI P.C. 59
Specializing in Basic Life Insurance Planning For The College Student1
1975(?)–1995(?)
The former 2-story commercial building was home to the law office of Lovett Sherffring Gallogly and Harnett. Raul Lovett, one of the principals, founded the firm in 1967 but passed away in 1990. He was known as the “King of Workers’ Comp.” Disney characters adorned the windows of the office (A.I.R.: We remember this from when we were kids) because Raul was a colorful personality. Someone had told him that the law firm would never amount to more than “A Mickey Mouse operation” and from them on, Mickey was the firm’s mascot.

#In the News

Probe: Lovett brothers practiced law in R.I. without licenses

by Katie Mulvaney
Providence Journal | June 11, 2015 (abridged)

For close to 20 years, the two-story Victorian at 358 Broadway served as home to Lovett & Lovett, an all-purpose practice specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation law.

That was up until December, when Lovett & Lovett opened shop in a nondescript single-story building — a near baseball’s throw from the Rhode Island state line in Seekonk, Mass.

The move came after the state Supreme Court Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee began investigating the firm and whether its partners were practicing law in Rhode Island without a license, court documents show. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently concluded yes: Carl J.S. “C.J.” and Samuel Lovett had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law over the course of 18-plus years. Now, the matter has been forwarded to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.

The Lovett brothers, sons of the flamboyant late King of Workers’ Comp, Raul Lovett, belong to a storied Rhode Island legal family. The self described “Mickey Mouse lawyer,” Raul was known for the trademark neon cartoon favorite on display at his longtime offices on Thomas Street. It’s there, at the firm their father founded, that the brothers got their start working as file clerks and paralegals.

[…]

Firm’s history

C.J. founded Lovett & Lovett in 1995 with his then wife, Karen, court records show. The couple had met at his father’s firm Lovett, Schefrin, Gallogly and Harnett, where she did appellate work as a licensed Rhode Island lawyer. Samuel Lovett joined them three years later.

The opening of the firm specializing in the same type of law their father built his reputation on spurred an ugly dispute with their dad’s former partners. The partners had fired Samuel, he told The Journal, for removing framed photographs and newspaper articles from the firm’s waiting room. C.J. said he felt so unwelcome after his father’s death in 1990 that he quit working at Lovett, Schefrin, Gallogly and Harnett two years later.

Their mother, Nancy, joined Samuel in suing three of Raul’s former partners over nonpayment of rent and moved to evict them from the Thomas Street offices. The former partners, in turn, sued C.J. and Karen, accusing them of improperly attempting “to trade upon” Raul Lovett’s name and trying to steal clients by opening Lovett & Lovett.

The case settled with the help of a mediator in a deal that encompassed any potential confusion concerning the operation of the two law firms and Nancy Lovett’s claim to a 5-foot neon Mickey Mouse that lit up at sundown. Under the terms of the mediated agreement, Nancy Lovett got back the neon Mickey Mouse and “shall be free to use or display the artwork at any place she wishes, and in any manner she wishes” — except in or on any building in which a law office is located.

Captured on October 16, 2020. https://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150711/NEWS/150719800

  1. “The Cowl”, Providence College, October 16, 1968. Captured October 16, 2020. https://digitalcommons.providence.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=cowl