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About this Property
During 2006 to 2018 or so, owner Maria Bernal was a bit of a pioneer. As far as we can tell, this business owner also lived above her ground floor antiques store in a former firehouse. Before Snookers took over the neighboring Damiano Brothers building, and way before the former J.L. Clark Manufacturing started to be converted into residential spaces. She survived as a boutique destination purveyor of mid-century antiques amongst a liquor store, an adult store, some light manufacturing, a gas station, and the post office.
Not much is known or can be found about the building itself. We place its construction at 1936 to 1937. If it was originally constructed as a fire station, it would have housed engines and horses on the first floor and firemen on the second. Later it was labelled as a boiler manufacturer and then an evangelical church.
Google lists the former business located here as “Permanently Closed.”
Listed on the Northeast Firenews website as a retired station built in 1940.1 This building shows up on a G.M. Hopkins cadastral map from 19372 labelled as “D.F. McCarthy, Est.” In aerial photos, this building is present starting in the earliest 1939 photo.3
An anecdote from Fire History enthusiast Harry Cohoon (below) rejects that this was a fire station and thinks that the building is likely older than 1930s as we previously noted. He is probably correct. An 1920-1921 Sanborn Map shows a brick building of a similar footprint at this location of 63-65 Ashburton. And again, as early as an 1899 Sanborn Map, this building seems to be in place but smaller and labelled as “Livery.” We have since changed the likely build date to 1900, but the building could be even older than that.
A two story red brick mill-looking building with central garage door size openings, one on each floor, flanked by sets of two arched top windows on both floors. On the first floor, an additional door entrance is on the left under the pair of windows on the second floor. Ornamentation is sparse but for a large bracketed wooden cornice along the façade’s roofline. Window sills are granite and all original windows have been replaced with straight-topped, double hung metal replacements.
In the News
Browsing: Functional Furnishings, From Fine To Funky
by Katherine Imbrie
Providence Journal | July 24, 2006 (abridged)
In a city filled with up-and-coming neighborhoods, Maria Bernal is staking a claim in a part of Providence that many pass through with some frequency, but few think of in terms of an upscale and cosmopolitan shop like her new Antiques & Interiors. The store is on Ashburton Street – and you may wonder, even if you have lived in Providence a long time: Where is that?
The long answer is that it is the back loop of Charles Street, the one-way section that brings you to Kelly’s Carwash right at the on-ramp for Route 95, next to the railroad tracks, and not far from the main post office. The short answer is that it’s the street behind Amazing Video.
In a heavily trafficked, mostly industrial area like this, who would expect to come upon a shop like Bernal’s? Yet, there it is: A beacon of panache and chic, reflecting its owner’s keen eye for good design of any period and in many price ranges, as well as her taste for the unusual and international.
Bernal, who owns the shop herself and runs it along with her little Shih Tzu dog Stitch, led a peripatetic existence before moving to Providence 14 years ago. Antiques & Interiors is her first retail venture; she has been a globetrotting publishing executive for a medical trade journal for many of those years.
[…] She stockpiled, she sourced, and a couple of years ago she bought an old brick firehouse on Ashburton. Built around 1900, it had housed engines on the ground floor and stabled horses on the second. Later it had been a boiler factory, and recently an evangelical church.
In between trips abroad, Bernal fashioned the upstairs into her lofty living space, the back (which had been a parking lot) into a serenely Zen garden courtyard, and the first floor into an antiques shop that she opened about a month ago.
[…] Bernal is the natural hub of a network of artists and artisans, both local and international, with whom she connects customers who have special desires. She doesn’t take a cut of these connections. Rather, she wants to “create a community of outsources for good design.”
[…] There is just no telling what you’ll find at Antiques & Interiors: Among the few rules that Bernal observes is, “Everything functional – no kitsch.” […]
Captured November 2, 2021 from http://www.firenews.org/ri/p/providence/providenceri.html ↩
Captured November 4, 2021 from Plate 30 at http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/895487/Plate+030/Providence+1937/Rhode+Island/ ↩
Seen in results from the Providence Historic Aerial Viewer. Captured November 4, 2021 from https://pvdgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=b1b3a4a4c66847a8b767cde26264246e ↩