Block bounded by Brook St., Meeting St., and Euclid Ave.

also known as the site of “257 Thayer” student residences

Nine homes on a block off Thayer Street were demolished ot make way for a large bulk of student apartments

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

The demolition of nine late 19th-century homes in a heavily commercial residential district was controversial, as we hoped it would be. It should not be easy to tear down most of a complete city block. And yet, it was easier than we might have expected.

The density of the project was what won over the City Plan Commission in the end. The new building as proposed would be four stories and not require a parking spot for every unit, easing the need for expensive and ugly surface lots. Modern construction materials could provide better long-term maintenance options for tenants as well as the neighborhood (in theory).

Rightfully so, residents of College Hill saw yet another example of institutional creep in the neighborhood, even though this project was not directly financed by any college. It used the universities’ student populations as its market and would not have happened without it.

The erosion of the residential College Hill Historic District between Cushing, Brook, Waterman, and Thayer Streets is evident. And yet Brown keeps building. And private developers piggy-back as well. And eventually, the north east section of the College Hill District may have very few 100+ year old homes left. This block of nine homes was the lynch pin that started lubricating the slippery slope in this area.

Current Events

Since demolition, a new private student residence was built called 257 Thayer. In the next block to the north, seven more late 19th-century homes were demolished for a temporary parking lot that later became the Brown Student Wellness Center.


From the College Hill Historic District nomination form, Edward F. Sanderson & Keith N. Morgan, January 1976

416 Brook Street — House, after 1895. 2-1/2 stories; hip; siding; recessed entrance under arched porch at southeast corner; fanlight and sidelights (now blocked) on front door; 2 story bay on front; small diamond window in center of 2nd floor front, dormer.

426 Brook Street (also 251–249 Meeting) — House, after 1895. 2-1/2 stories; flank gable; shingle; arched and faceted porch on north; round-headed window on north in stairhall; bay on 1st floor east; overhanging gable ends.

237 Meeting Street — After 1895. 2-1/2 stories; end gable; shingle; balustraded porch enclosed; 2-story bay on front under deep eaves; multiple gables.

241 Meeting Street — After 1895. 2-1/2 stories; hip; siding; 3 bay with central hipped porch; triangular bay on 2nd floor front; pedimented dormers; yellow brick chimneys.

245 Meeting Street — 1875-95. 2-1/2 stories; end gable; siding and shingles; 3 bay with central hipped porch; porch has scrolled capitals on columns; same capitals on columns in recessed band of windows in gable end; deep eaves on sides.

2 Euclid Avenue — After 1895. Colonial Revival; 2-1/2 stories; end gable; shingle; “shell’ door hood carried on brackets; enclosed porch on east with later balustrade above; plate glass windows with rear entrance on west for commercial use; deep eaves on sides; gable end overhangs.

10 Euclid Avenue — After 1895. 2-1/2 stories; hip; shingle; house converted to commercial use; all 1st floor windows replaces and new entrance put in sloping projection on west side; triangular bay on 1st floor front; 1st overhangs 2nd; deep eaves.

14 Euclid Avenue — After 1895. 1-1/2 stories; end gambrel; shingle; entrance under porch with stout Doric columns; gambrel deeply overhangs 1st; side dormers.

18 Euclid Avenue — 1875-95. Colonial Revival; 1-1/2 stories; flank gambrel; shingle; broad porch with deeply overhanging gambrel; unevenly sized dormers.

In the News

Panel OKs Thayer Street apartments

by Alisa A. Pina
Providence Journal | May 17, 2012

The City Plan Commission supports a proposed four-story apartment building on busy Thayer Street that some preservationists say would destroy the flavor of historic College Hill, along with any buffer residents had from the congested commercial area.

The $28 million project being developed by Gilbane Development Corp. would add more than 100 apartments that Gilbane says Brown University and other nearby colleges desperately need. However, the proposed 257 Thayer Street project would also require the demolition of nine multi-unit houses on the block bounded by Brook Street, Euclid Avenue and Meeting Street.

On Tuesday, the commission voted 3-1 to recommend to the City Council a proposed zoning change from residential to high-density, mixed-use. The C-3 designation sets maximum heights for buildings and minimum lot sizes as well as cutting parking requirements in half.

The commission also voted that the council should amend the future land use map in the city’s Providence Tomorrow comprehensive plan by enlarging the neighborhood commercial area to include Gilbane’s proposed block and more around it, but not extend beyond Brook Street.

Only new commission member Ina Anderson voted against supporting the changes. Voting in favor were Meredyth Church, Harrison Bilodeau and chairman Stephen Durkee.

In endorsing the decision, city planners said the revisions create a “diverse range of housing for individuals with varying needs” that the 2008 comprehensive plan envisioned. They also said the reliance on reduced parking also promotes the use of transit, walking, bicycles and other alternatives to motor vehicles.

“Given the commercial, transit-oriented use of this area, the rezoning is in conformance with the comprehensive plan and is not expected to negatively affect health, safety, welfare and the purposes of zoning,” the planners’ written recommendation said.

“The transformation will likely result in the demolition of two additional blocks of historic wood-framed late 19th- and early 20th-century dwellings, totaling over two dozen historic buildings, all of which contribute to the College Hill Historic Landmark District,” said Richard C. Youngken, a historic planner hired by residents living near the proposed site. “The integrity of the National Register district in this area may be compromised by this action.”

He suggested Gilbane look at old schools, factories and buildings that can be rehabbed into student housing, such as ones downtown that aren’t far from the Brown campus since “this is supposed to be a walkable city.”

Susan Allen, a preservation activist, said she’s insulted that Gilbane called the nine houses scheduled to be demolished “derelict” and too-far gone for being preserved. The buildings are owned by David Shwaery, who owns Squires Salon on Euclid Avenue.

Editorial: Gilbane used the condition of the houses against them, a classic “Demolition by Neglect” argument that should not have condemned them.

She said she and her husband have rehabilitated much worse.

“I don’t think the condition of these houses is any argument to condemn them to demolition,” she said while also stating the buffer the houses create is “critical” to residents’ quality of life.

Resident David Kolsky also said the comprehensive plan was designed to “stabilize the system,” respect residents’ wishes and “avoid spot zoning,” so changing the plan within a few years of approving it should be considered carefully.

“The integrity of College Hill is broken,” he said. “It will be whatever is left over after Brown, Moses Brown and Wheeler… There won’t be a residential feel once you destroy it.”

PINA, ALISHA A.. “PROVIDENCE — Panel OKs Thayer Street apartments.” Providence Journal (RI), 1 ed., sec. projoRhodeIsland, 17 May 2012, p. A5. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.