Captain Joseph Tillinghast House

A 250+ year old home belonging to one of the captain’s that took part in the burning of the Gaspee

About this Property


Now that interstate 195 have been moved out of the center of the city, the land that this 250 year old house sits on is very valuable. On the corner of James Street and South Main, this simple wood clapboard structure has seen many shipping and industrialization changes in the city. Its seen the working waterfront be replaced by a leisure attraction, buildings be razed for a highway then the highway removed to make way for new buildings. It’s had quite a life.

Around 2003, Andrew Mitrelis purchased the property. The building gained attention by back-to-back listings on PPS’s Ten Most Endangered Lists in 2008 and 2009. The owner engaged an architect and the Providence Revolving Fund to study a potential rehabilitation of the building. They hired an engineer to do exploratory work on the building’s structure as the buckling façade indicated problems with the foundation and/or frame. In 2010, exterior renovations were completed while working closely with the Providence Revolving Fund. The roof and the chimneys were rebuilt and an exterior and interior renovation were completed by 2011.

The renovation garnered a Rhody Project Award to Andrew Mitrelis for restoring the this remnant of Providence’s Colonial past in 2014.1 The building contained a salon during 2014 until we are not sure when.

#Current Events

According to Google, this home is now an office location of Peter M. Scotti & Associates Real Estate.


From Providence Preservation Society’s Ten Most Endangered listings, 2008 & 2009

Captain Joseph Tillinghast, who commanded one of the boats involved in the burning of the Gaspee in 1772, built the ca. 1770 house on a site claimed by his great-grandfather Pardon Tillinghast in 1645. The site was also the location of the first wharf and warehouse in Providence. The 2½-story, 5-bay-facade Tillinghast House has a center-hall-plan with two interior brick chimneys and a central, pedimented entrance with paneled pilasters. The house survived the 1801 South Main Street fire and is the one of the only remaining buildings of Providence’s colonial waterfront. It is unclear why the sign in front of the building calls it “Dolphin House.”

The highly visible house is suffering from severe neglect; the buckling façade indicates problems with the building’s frame. Additionally, the building’s position adjacent to the original I-195 and the riverfront puts it at risk. Once I-195 is moved from its original location, the house will be bordering highly desirable, developable land, placing the deteriorating colonial-era structure at even greater risk. […] 2

From HABS Survey RI-4: 1937 with 1962 addendum

This house, built about 1767, is the only well preserved survival of the pre-Revolutionary period on the lower part of South Main Street in Providence. […]

The original entrance was replaced by the present Greek Revival doorway, probably about 1840. A small section of original hallway paneling, painted a medium olive green, was covered over when the doorway was added and is visible in a small closet beside the doorway. The first floor mantels have been partly altered, apparently about the same time as the Greek Revival doorway was added, and some of the mantel shelves on the second floor fire- places have also been altered.

There is a later bay window between the south rooms on the first floor, and some Greek Revival trim on the doorways between these two rooms. There are later plaster ceiling medallions in these rooms, and also in the central hallway.

The present six over six light, double hung windows are probably later; originally the windows may have had twelve light sash with heavier muntins as in the window at the stair landing. There is some later hardware, but second floor doors have early box locks and L-shape hinges. The stairway flusters around the stair well on the second floor are slightly different from those on the steps, and may have been altered. A bathroom has been added on the second floor in the central hallway over the entrance. The Gothic wallpaper in the hallway, recorded earlier in HABS, has been removed and destroyed. […]

Prepared by Osmund R. Overby, Architect National Park Service, April 1962.

  1. “Rhody Awards: Projects, people win preservation awards,” Bill Van Siclen, Providence Journal, September 18, 2014. 

  2. Captured November 6, 2021 from an version of