Hope Street, #719-721

also known as Davis Dairy

Long-time tenants Davis Dairy vacated in spring 2020 after a fire damaaged the upper floors of the house

About this Property

#Last Tenant

Davis Dairy occupied the ground-floor retail location of this home since we don’t know when — a long time. A fire on the third floor broke out in May, 2020, and forced the Jewish deli to close. They made the decision in February, 2021, not to reopen the retail store but to continue a wholesale business.

Architecture

The home is 2 and three-quarter stories (according to the tax records), with a rare double-gable roof line on the south side of the third floor. The north side of the third floor features a large dormer bay. It is wood frame construction with brown-stained wood shingle on the upper stories and concrete block facing on the commercial first floor. A storefront is diagonally placed (kitty-corner) on the northwest wall with a commercial plate glass window on the north and west sides. A large bay window is above the storefront on the second floor.

#Current Events

In April the third floor and roof were ripped off and the structure was left open to the elements for about six weeks. At the end of May a new third floor was added, this time, with straight walls to create a full size third floor. No roof has been added yet.

#History

Not much found yet. This side of town has not been documented in very early Sanborn Insurance Maps. The earliest map we could find so far with this house on the corner of Hope (early maps label it as East Street/Ave) and Braman was from 1920-1921, Volume 2, Sheet 85.

Zillow and Realtor.com do not list this property for sale, and tax history shows the most recent sale as 2013.

#In the News

An additional remembrance from the Jewish Rhody online by M. Charles Bakst

Providence’s kosher market Davis Dairy closes for good

by Gail Ciampa Providence Journal | February 16, 2021 (abridged)

What the Davis family built in Providence will not soon be forgotten. The taste of many people’s childhoods and history were etched at Davis Dairy Products.

But after a fire destroyed the Hope Street building housing their business in May [2020], they’ve decided not to reopen their Jewish kosher deli market, the last of its kind in Providence, where there once were many.

“Our decision to close the retail store was extremely difficult,” said Mark Glazer, co-owner with wife Lori Davis Glazer and father-in-law Joslin “Josh” Davis. It has been part of their family since 1906.

“We have sold delicacies such as fresh-cooked corned beef, chopped liver, pastrami and hand-sliced Nova Scotia lox, as well as our fresh cream cheese,” he said. “And, of course, we have also always carried a large selection of kosher groceries.”

The lox brought in customers from all over New England, Glazer added.

“We have felt like such an integral part of the Jewish community and know that our family and our customers will feel this tremendous loss.”

Leslie Y. Gutterman, rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth-El in Providence, remembered Davis Dairy this way: “It was one of the places I saw all manner of Jews gathering together.” It didn’t matter if they were Reform, Orthodox, cultural or religious — Davis was a place they shared, he said.

He loved that they sold food not imitated by other places.

“I remember them cutting lox so thin you could see through it,” he said. Buying containers with their herring in cream sauce was a special delight.

“It was always predictable and wonderful, and the closest we could get to a real New York delicatessen here.”

The good news is that the wholesale business, which has spanned New England and parts of the Midwest, will continue, Glazer said. It has serviced supermarkets, restaurants, stores, camps, hospitals and senior homes, he said.

Glazer said the family has been in contact with Jeff Ingber and Freda Ronkin, who plan to open Bubbies Market and Deli nearby on Hope Street. Davis’ lox, and other products, will be sold there.

But this is not the day to look forward, but to remember what made Davis Dairy unique.

Glazer said they will miss seeing their customers and all the chatting they shared.

While waiting in line, customers could catch up on what was new in the schools and synagogues, and in their lives, Glazer said.

“Many times, we would hear about engagements and births, often before extended family. Sadly, we were also one of the first to be called after a death in the family,” he said.

It’s been like this for generations.

“Children who came shopping would often get a pickle or a cookie,” he recalled. “We have watched so many grow up and get married and then bring their own children in to see us.”

People on social media have reacted to the closing, especially since they can’t gather anywhere but virtually. They recounted “out of this world” sour cream, jars of gefilte fish, the best pickles and sour tomatoes, and the names of those working the counter.

M. Charles Bakst, a retired Providence Journal political columnist, posted the news on Facebook after receiving an email from the owners announcing the closure over the weekend.

He called it the “end of an era in R.I. Jewish circles.”

“Elizabeth [Bakst’s wife] and I will miss this place — the food and the schmoozing — dearly. Indeed, we shopped there for decades and were among its very last customers, stopping in only hours before the fire,” he wrote.

It was a late-night fire back on May 19 that badly damaged the building at 721 Hope St. and made it unusable.

“The fire started in the apartment on the third floor, but we do not know the actual cause,” Glazer said.

What is understood is that it may have closed a business, but it won’t extinguish the memories that remain from decades and decades of fine food and conversation.

Captured April 9, 2021 from https://www.providencejournal.com/story/entertainment/dining/2021/02/16/providence-kosher-market-davis-dairy-closes-after-114-years/6752062002/