images of this Property
24 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions from the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
About this Property
Tops Electric Supply & Lighting Gallery (also known as Tops Supply LLC) occupied this building from 1974 until recently. We are unsure if they are still active or not — their Facebook page’s most recent post is from January 2022. According to OpenCorporates, their registered business standing was revoked in 2017.1
In 2012 the nearby Ward Baking Company was razed. Soon after, around 2015, the site was considered as the location for a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox stadium, which depended on public support as taxpayer dollars would have been required. That deal was not succesful, and the Ward baking and Barstow Stove properties continued to be without a new developer.
The site has been languishing and decaying since then. Some work has been done on the first floor and we have seen cars entering and exiting the eastern side from what looks like ground floor parking or storage for Coastal Medical (they have office space next door in 10 Davol Square). The buildings seem stable from the outside but show signs of neglect and disrepair.
We will be keeping an eye on this complex and what happens to the remaining structures, as they represent a very old selection of industrial architecture that is becoming rarer and rarer.
Links are to the curated image in our gallery or to original source material.
- 1908 L.J. Richards Map (private collection) — The complex is large, stretching across a section of Chestnut Street that meets Manchester through the center of the complex. On the top right (northwest) corner there are plats under different ownership, along with the southeast corner. Brick structures are in red and wooden structures are in yellow
- 1920–1921 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 32 (page 43) — The large complex is mostly the same, but the central portion of Chestnut Street has been abandoned and Manchester St renamed to Marengo. The buildings are labelled pattern storage, grinding and polishing, refining, pattern shop, wash room, machine shop, foundry, mounting and packing, flask house, and shipping
- 1937 G.M. Hopkins Insurance Map, Plate 6 — The complex is much the same but now labelled “Barstow Repair Parts Co.” A gas station has come up on the southeast corner
- 1920–1951 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 32 (page 43) — The complex has shrunk, with the entire southwestern portion demolished, which were the flask and mounting and packing buildings
- 1920–1956 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 32 (page 33) — The complex is much the same, except for a new building in the northwest corner that was never part of the Barstow holdings
- 1962 Providence Historical Aerial Viewer — Parsonage and Marengo streets seem to begin to be absorbed by this industrial area. The large southwestern section is being used for parking and trailer storage for the surrounding businesses
- 1997 Providence Historical Aerial Viewer — A large set of wooden structures in the central south of the complex, once labelled machinery storage, are now gone and the complex remains in its current form
From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002
[Barstow Stove is included in this report, but without any new information and referencing the two reports below.]
From the RIHPHC survey of Providence Industrial Sites, July 1981
118 Point Street, Barstow Stove Company (1849 and later): The Barstow Stove Company was established in 1836 by Amos Chafee Barstow. Barstow had first been a stove dealer on Weybosset Street and later was proprietor of the City Furnace on Broad Street. Barstow built a new stove foundry on Point Street in 1849. The first ranges turned out at the Barstow factory were called Bay State Stoves. These coal and wood stoves soon became a national favorite. For a short period of time in the early 1850s, the Barstow Stove Company produced heavy castings for Corliss Engines, but with the increased demand for stoves this pursuit was dropped. In 1851, the company won several prizes for its wood and coal stoves; these stoves included the Bay State Wood and Coal Stoves, the Banner Stove, the Hedenberg Coal Stove, and the Pyramid Stove.
Most of the construction of the Barstow Stove Factory Complex took place in the 1850s and 1860s, but only three buildings survive of the complex which nearly filled the Point, Chestnut, and Richmond Street Block. The earliest of these structures is a 3 1/2-story (third story added in 1864), brick, gable-roofed structure (1849) with a clerestory monitor, a corbeled cornice, and rectangular windows with granite lintels. On the east side of this building is a 4 1/2-story structure (c. 1855) with a jerkin-head roof (which appears flat from the street level) and rectangular windows with granite sills and lintels. The other surviving structure is a later, 3-story, brick building with a flat roof.
The Barstow Stove Company incorporated in 1859. Barstow, who had been the mayor of Providence in 1852 and 1853 and who remained active in city and state government, was named the president of the newly incorporated company. Barstow’s son, Amos C. Barstow, Jr., was named treasurer. At this time the company’s works covered two-and-one-half acres; the complex included two molding rooms, a flask-storage building which held up to 9,000 flasks, a room for mounting stoves, storage areas which held up to 5,000 stoves, and a storage area for patterns which were designed in the factory under Barstow patents. The company employed 200 workers and produced 50 different varieties of stoves and furnaces. In 1873 the company received the grand medal of merit at the Vienna World’s Fair for the best cooking stoves and ranges.
Amos C. Barstow died in 1892 and his son Amos Barstow, Jr., became company president. Under his leadership, the Barstow Stove Company acquired the Spicer Stove Company, another Providence-based firm, well known for its Model Grand Stove. The Barstow Stove Company also acquired all of the Spicer patterns and stock, making it the only stove foundry in Providence and the largest stove company in New England.
Upon the death of Amos Barstow, Jr., in 1903, his son, J. Palmer Barstow, took over the business. J. P. Barstow reorganized the company under a new charter in 1919. In 1920, the company acquired joint ownership with another stove company of a former electric plant in Rehoboth which they used for a gas-stove enameling plant. By this time gas stoves had overtaken the stove market. Also because of the increasing use of gas stoves, the decision was reached in 1927 to convert the foundry into a gas-stove assembly area. The Barstow Stove Company made arrangements to buy castings from the Builders Iron Foundry. This decision meant reducing the work force by seventy-five people, mostly molders. In 1928 the company produced one of its last new models, a fully enameled gas stove which featured an insulated heat-controlled oven, a patented top-burner thermostat, and a fully insulated broiler. In 1930 the Barstow Stove Company failed. For about ten years part of the plant was occupied by Home Service Inc., a household-repair company. Various manufacturers occupied the factory including a Barstow Repair Parts Company which lasted two years after the stove-company’s end. Since 1974, Tops Electric Supply Company has occupied the factory.
From “RHODE ISLAND: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites”, Gary Kulik and Julia C. Bonham, 1978
Established by Amos C. Barstow in 1836, the Barstow Stove Company, which was the first foundry of its kind in Providence, was not incorporated until 1859. The company manufactured many styles of stoves but was best known for the “Bay State” and “Model Grand” styles. In 1900, the Barstow Stove Company acquired the patterns and stock of the Spicer Stove Company in order to increase the number of models from which customers could choose. At that time, the stove foundry occupied numerous buildings covering the entire city block. Today only two of these buildings remain: an 1850 3 1⁄2-story, brick structure with a pitched roof and a clerestory monitor; and an 1855 4 1⁄2-story, brick structure with a jerkinhead roof, which appears flat from street level. Both buildings have rectangular windows with granite sills and lintels. An electric supply company now occupies the buildings.
“Tops Electric Supply Company.” Open Corporates, captured 29 December 2022 from https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_ri/000010997 ↩