Waterman Street, #230

also known as Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home, McBride’s Pub

A turn-of-the-20th-century former funeral home will be demolished for a new apartment building on the edge of Wayland Square

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

Starting in July of 2021, Myles Standish Associates brought plans to the City Plan Commission (CPC) to demolish the former Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home on the corner of Waterman and Wayland in favor of new construction. A five-story, mixed-use building with ground-floor commercial and twelve residences would be built on the site. No commercial parking but two parking spaces per residential unit would be included in a parking structure accessible from Waterman.

The developer required a variance to support the fifth floor, the number of parking spaces, and some of the design elements.

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) opposed the demolition in a letter to the CPC dated November, 2022. They were the sole voice of opposition during these meetings.

A General Complaint about the City Plan Commission

We agree with an assessment made by Gabriel Sender originally directed at the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission (RDC). These comments can certainly apply to the CPC as well.

[…] the lack of regard the I-195 Commission has for the community is obvious and unacceptable. […] The committee currently meets once a month publicly at 5 p.m. on Zoom. This is a deeply problematic practice for a number of reasons […] Firstly, a once-a-month meeting seems insufficient for accurately gauging community input on various development proposals, especially when there have already been vocal objectors in the community. Secondly, 5 p.m. is a particularly poor time to hold a community meeting. This is during rush hour, when many people are just getting off of work, or when others are sitting down for dinner, picking up children or running other errands. Placing a community meeting at 5 p.m. then excludes a vast number of residents from having a chance to contribute to the discussion, allowing only those with significant free time to do so […] [M]any believe the entire planning process is exclusionary.
Further, these meetings hardly provide any opportunity for community members to speak, demonstrating only a facade of caring for the community. Public comment in every recent meeting of the I-195 Commission has been limited to 15 minutes total. Each member of the community is allowed to speak for three minutes at most, and they only have the opportunity to do so if they email the committee in advance.

The fact that PPS was the only individual or group opposed to the demolition enforces the idea that the process is exclusionary. Public comment is not inclusively accommodated and those with the means or the mission and focus to speak out are the ones who are most successful. While there is no organized Wayland Square association or committee — unlike the Thayer Street area with their Thayer Street Merchants Association — it is still surprising that no one in the neighborhood was able to provide their feedback on this development, one that went through three different meeting agendas.

Current Events

During the November 15th CPC meeting, the demolition of this 1892 home was approved unanimously. There are no protections for the home, as it does not sit inside an existing historic district. In response to PPS’ comments, the developer stated that “incorporation of the existing building would be impossible” but we feel that this is more a lack of willingness and imagination rather than an architectural impossibility.

History

From a letter to the City Planning Commission from the Providence Preservation Society (excerpt)

The former funeral home is characteristic of the turn-of-the-century residences found on the East Side of Providence. The structure predates the commercial district in which it is located today, and is one of the only remaining structures of its kind. As this area was overlooked for inclusion in the National Register historic district nomination, it is imperative that we foster good stewardship of these properties. Without this foresight, the character of this neighborhood will be lost entirely.

— Adriana Hazelton, Advocacy Manager, Providence Preservation Society
November 14, 2022 (Source letter)


We looked at our usual sources, and the home is not present in any historic district documentation or RIHPHC reports. It shows up in maps, of course, but these maps provide little detail of who owned it and when. The home sits just outside the Wayland Avenue Historic District which comes up to about a block away.

The best depiction of the property is in the 1951 Sanborn Map, Plate 39 (page 46). The low brick building that is now McBride’s restaurant has been built, where as in previous maps it was not present. A garage was present instead, set back from Wayland Avenue. The commercial block to the north was built likely around the same time.