Beswick Building

A handsome, if not crumbling, three story brick and granite five-sided commercial building at the gateway to Pawtucket’s Downtown

About this Property

#Last Tenant

This is a beautiful three story building with so much potential. The News Cafe is the oldest remaining storefront, while other businesses have come and gone in the Summer Street, Exchange Street, and Broad Street storefronts. The upper floors look like they haven’t been inhabited for more than 20 years. The ground floor features some really nice storefronts in varying conditions and a central entrance with granite panels under an elaborate protruding semi-circular bay window. The shoe shine shop on the corner of Exchange and Broad only left his storefront circa 2000 and had been there over 40 years.

Since it is on such a prominent corner along Exchange Street, we hope that a new owner will continue to improve — and maybe even occupy — the upper floors. It would be amazing if the ground floor retail spaces could be restored to their former Art Deco glory, even though the building’s original storefronts were probably in more of a Late Victorian style.

Did you Know? Movies Edition: In the pavement in front of the Beswick building is Pawtucket’s own little (crumbling) Walk of Fame. It was created after the filming of “American Buffalo” in 1996. The film was directed by Michael Corrente (in his hometown) and starred Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz, and Sean Nelson — each received a star. The are badly decayed and barely legible, but a brass buffalo adorns the center of the panel.

#Current Events

Still struggling, the building is under new ownership according to the news story from 2019. We have not noticed a significant change in the exterior (or interior) of the building, however.

#History

From the National Register nomination for the Downtown Pawtucket Historic District, Kathy Cavanaugh, 2006

1–3 Exchange Street (43–45 Broad, 46 Summer) Beswick Building (1891; remodeled ca. 1920-1930 and again mid-late 20th century. A 3 story, flat roof with parapet, brick and granite, handsomely detailed Late Victorian commercial building with four storefronts (one original) on a five-sided lot at the intersection of Exchange, Broad, and Summer Streets. The lst floor level, clad entirely in granite, features two storefronts on Exchange Street flanking a recessed arched center entrance with stone voussoirs (#3); the aluminum and glass double doors with arched transom are replacement elements. The storefront left of the main entrance (#3 1/2) is applied onto the façade and has the appearance of a mid-20th century diner, with metal bulkheads and piers framing the recessed entrance and a neon sign in the metal sign band; this storefront wraps around part of the Summer Street elevation. The storefront right of the main entrance (not numbered) has vertical board bulkheads and signband, metal-framed windows and door, and an off-center recessed entrance, all within the original wood enframement. A group of five wood colonnettes marks the comer of Exchange and Broad Streets.

On the Broad Street elevation, the storefront at #45 appears to be original, with granite bulkhead, wood-framed double-hung storefront window under a transom, and wood double doors with large sidelights and a double multi-light transom; the storefront at #43 Broad has late 20th century applied vertical board wood siding and two glass block windows flanking a centered, paneled wood door. The Summer Street elevation has an Art Deco-style storefront applied to the façade (#46) and to a shallow 1-story brick addition that extends about 6 feet past the northeast comer of the building; this storefront has concrete bulkheads and narrow strips of opaque multi-colored glass surrounding three metal-framed windows and a recessed, off-center entrance. The upper stories are clad in brick, with granite trim including quoins, belt course, and window lintels, and a heavy bracketed metal cornice. On the 2nd floor level are two large wood-framed oriel windows: one semi-circular, above the main entrance, with “Beswick Building” in applied lettering on it, and the other rectangular, on the Broad Street elevation, with the date “1891” applied on it. Windows on the floor are paired, 1/1 double hung wood sash; on the 3rd floor are alternating paired and single window openings, all boarded up. At the rear of the building (facing an adjacent parking lot) are two small, modem 1-story wooden sheds.

Built for Frances Beswick, widow of a saloon keeper and brewer who lived on the opposite comer of Exchange and Summer Streets in the early 1890s, this building is shown on an 1890 map as “being built;” it was apparently completed in 1891, as indicated by the date on the building, but the name “Beswick Building” does not appear in city directories until 1893. The building’s original tenants are not known, but in 1915 a liquor store, pharmacy, and barber were on the ground floor, with offices for a dentist, a painter, a confectioner, and a real estate agent (Beswick & Glancy) on the upper floors. The barber shop at 45 Broad in 1915 was operated by Xaviere Bachand; in the 1920s he moved his shop to the comer of Exchange and Montgomery streets, and later built the Veloria Apartments there (see 50-52-54 Exchange Street). The building remains in commercial use.

#In the News

Gateway Beswick Building will be transformed

by Ethan Shorey
Valley Breeze | February 5, 2019 (abridged)

The old Beswick Building, located at 3 Exchange St. at the gateway to the city and its downtown, has been sold to a group of three developers who plan to transform it into a modern center of commerce.

Cynthia Langlykke, Manny Cabral and Alain Noiset say they’re redoing this three-story building, covering 3,500 square feet of space on each floor, with hopes of helping the revival of the city’s downtown.

Langlykke said the owners plan to invest between $600,000 and $700,000 in the building, including the purchase and renovation. Property records show it was purchased by the group for $220,000 last October.

They are also in talks on a number of other properties in Pawtucket.

According to historical articles, the Beswick building was first built in 1891, but hasn’t received a significant overhaul since the 1940s. The building located at the intersection of Broad, Summer and Exchange streets was originally built for Frances Beswick and her son, Thomas. Its hall hosted dances for many years, and fraternal societies such as the Knights of Columbus and Knights of Pythias held meetings there. It was also a favorite gathering place for men who kept fit in Hugh Glancy’s old gym on the second floor. Glancy was a former featherweight champion of New England.

In one of its past incarnations, the Queen Anne-style building located in the Times Square area of Pawtucket housed a cafe, shoe shine parlor and a watch repair shop.

The building has seen two fires, one in 1927 and another in 1932, according to records.

The Beswick in the past has been listed as vulnerable to potential new single-story commercial development. Potential uses have included a downtown hotel, upscale apartments, commercial offices or a fitness center.

Cabral said his News Cafe entertainment venue will remain on the ground floor of the building, and Mama Africa is also expected to stay.

He said the new owners “fell in love” with the building, and plan to complete a thorough overhaul, including new windows throughout. There’s a potential for live-work studios on the upper floors of this building “centered in the gateway to Pawtucket,” he said, as well as new storefronts.

Cabral said the owners are especially high on the planned revitalization of the nearby Broad Street corridor, which includes as its centerpiece a $13.5 million reconstruction of the roadway from Pawtucket through Central Falls and into Cumberland. The highlight on the Pawtucket end will be the reconstruction of the complex intersection the Beswick Building stands at.

Overall, said Cabral, the owners are looking for stable and professional businesses to move in.

Langlykke said the owners love both the location and the architectural and historical beauty of the building. She said they’re “super excited” about the future here.

“We’ll be tightening it up and improving it,” she said.

Some of the setbacks in Pawtucket of late have “definitely been disappointing,” she said, but the coming train station nearby, as well as the development of the Guild brewery and likely redevelopment of the Apex site, offer plenty of reasons for optimism.

The owners see themselves as pioneers of sorts in trying to get momentum back for the city, she said.

There is nothing modern about the current structure, said Langlykke, but that will all change with the planned renovations, which are now begun.

The owners believe they may have secured a new tenant for one of the ground floor spaces. Langlykke said there will be a lot of glass on the bottom floor, where just about any kind of commercial outfit is welcome, including food and drink establishments.

On the second floor, the owners are planning to house either one larger tenant or to break it up into six or seven spaces, possibly for shared co-working uses with stations rented out.

The third floor could also be either one larger commercial tenant or broken up into six or seven units. That floor could also fit about five or six “micro lofts” if the owners choose to go the residential route.

Cabral said the building also has a beautiful basement and the owners would like to do something with that space as well.

Captured August 29, 2021 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/2019-02-05/pawtucket/gateway-beswick-building-will-be-transformed#.YSuGny1h04M