Images of this Property
8 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contribution from the Library of Congress
About this Property
National Office Furniture has been at this address since we don’t know when. Its been a long time. They recently moved. Why? Unsure, but the new location likely seems like it could only be a showroom because it does not have all of the space that this location had.
When this was a car and truck sales showroom, the flashier vehicles were likely located in the streetfront portion of the building along Branch Avenue. Once inside, a customer could look out across the annex building in the rear which could hold up to 50 cars (according to the Sanborn Map).
The building’s main entrance is a nice, symmetrical, commercial storefront with large plate glass windows and central double-door. The door is flanked by two decorative concrete columns. Two single door recessed entrances are on the far ends of the left and right sides. The rear annex building has no details from the exterior but its interior is impressive in its raw structural space.
National Office Furniture moved in 2023 from this location to Elmgrove Avenue next to a Santander Bank Branch. Their website (as of May, 2023) has not been updated with the new address.
From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002
The main block of the building stands one-story in height with a central, recessed entrance on its façade flanked by bands of single-light, fixed windows. Single pedestrian entrances are located at each end bay of the façade. Fenestration on the side elevations consists of multi-light sash and some bricked in openings. A one-story, brick ell with a shallow shed roof and skylights extends from the rear elevation of 36 Branch Avenue. The rear ell features a concrete floor, concrete slab, exposed steel trusses, and 24” brick piers (Sanborn 1983). The building is attached to 32 Branch Avenue, a two-story brick structure with a parapet and concrete trim and panels to the south.
Although the existing RIHPHC data sheet for the property records the building’s date of construction as between 1908 and 1918, it appears that the building was actually constructed ca. 1930. The 1919 Sanborn map shows several buildings on this and adjacent lots, the majority of which are identified as “lumber sheds.” The building that sat on this lot in 1919 was a two-story, wood frame lumber shed with two rear additions. Additionally, the property was transferred from Lansing Lumber Company in 1930 to Burrows & Kenyon, Inc., who in tum transferred the property to Max Gordon the following year. Stylistically, it appears much more likely that the building at 36 Branch Avenue was constructed ca. 1930 on the site of the earlier structure. The property appears on the 1937 map as Autocar & Studebaker Trucks. The 1947 directory lists Autocar Sales and Service at this address.
These are the same map references as 32 Branch Avenue (Washington Laundry).
- 1899 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 2, Plate 116 — The northern portion of the block bounded by Mechanic Ave. to the west, Thurber Lane to the north, Branch Ave. to the east, and Livingston Ave. to the south is labelled “George D. Lansing & Son Lumber Yard.” Thurber Lane has been renamed Dryden Lane.
- 1920–1921 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 2, Plate 77 — Still shows “Lansing Lumber Co.” as the owner of this portion of the block.
- 1926–1927 G.M. Hopkins Insurance Map, Plate 24 — Still shows “Lansing Lumber Co.” as the owner of this portion of the block.
- 1937 G.M. Hopkins Insurance Map, Plate 24 — This building is now in place, labelled “Melrose Realty Co. – Autocar & Studebaker Trucks.”
- 1920-1951 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 2, Plate 77 — Autocar is not mentioned by name, but the building shows several detailed labels, including “Garage, Capacity 50 cars. Concrete floor, concrete slab reenforced on exposed steel trusses. 24” brick piers.” In the G.M. Hopkins maps, both the #32 and #36 buildings are shown in pink which should indicate brick construction. Here, Sanborn shows the #36 building in blue, indicating stone construction (the “C.B.” label indicating cinder block is not present).