Case Mead Building

A four-turned-five-story 19th-century commercial building goes residential to support 44 micro-lofts and a younger clientele

About this Property

#Redevelopment

This is a very interesting building with history that goes back farther than you might think. With an 1859 build date, this was the location of an infantry hall for the first 20 years of its life. After another 20 years, the double-height hall was converted to two stories, while the exterior windows still retain their double height window trim. Therefore, the exterior shows rectangular commercial storefront windows and fenestration on the first and second floor, topped by a string-course, then a two-story high section of double height window trim around a set of rectangular windows on the third floor, rectangular and arch-topped windows on the 4th floor, with a smaller string-course above that, and finally smaller single-sets of double-hung windows on the fifth floor.

From the 70s to the 2000s, the building was painted in low contrast colors, with no special attention being paid to the wonderful details of the string-courses and double height window trim. The updated paint scheme in medium blue-gray and dark, almost navy blue grey is much more attractive and really makes this building stand out against its much more flamboyant neighbor to the north, the former Union Trust and Federal Reserve building.

Its a shame we were not able to capture or find a photo of the mural that adorned the eastern side of the building, overlooking the parking lot. One sees remnants of it in the photo from 2017. It was a Providence city skyline on one side above the contact information for Paolino Properties and an older view of Exchange Place (Kennedy Plaza) above contact information for an insurance agency.

This project utilized State Historic Tax Credits and also applied for Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits which were approved in February of 2016. Commerce later revisited the need for Rebuild credits after the project received approval for State Historic credits. We are unsure of the outcome. The renovation costs were projected to be $7.7-million as reported in January of 2017.1

#Current Events

The building’s 44 micro-loft studio and one-bedroom apartments are available for lease. Check the Paolino Properties website for availability.

#History

From the National Register nomination form for the Downtown Providence Historic District, prepared by William McKenzie Woodward, Principal Historic Preservation Planner, 1984

Case-Mead Building (1859, 1906): 5-story, stucco-sheathed wood-frame building with mid-20th-century storefronts; heavy string-courses above second and fourth stories with pier-and-spandrel wall system on third and fourth stories and paired windows on fifth story; bracketed box cornice. The original 4-story, frame Case-Mead Building was erected on this site in 1859. It housed an infantry hall in its high fourth story before the Infantry Hall was completed on South Main Street in 1880. During the late 19th century the infamous Turkish Parlor — an ill-reputed gathering place where, it was rumored, brazen women smoked — was located on the second floor. In 1906 the building was thoroughly remodeled: a fifth floor was created out of the upper half of the fourth story and the present wall articulation system was applied. The awkwardness of adapting the earlier fenestration to the remodeled articulation system gives the building much of its charm and vitality. Its interesting architectural quality and its role — albeit somewhat tawdry — in Providence social history make it a noteworthy though still undervalued landmark at a major Downtown intersection.

#In the News

More Micro-Lofts Are Coming to Downtown

by Casey Nilsson
RI Monthly | August 22, 2017

By late fall, Providence will host a second set of micro-loft apartments, plus pint-sized studios and one-bedroom apartments for tiny living aficionados.

The Case-Mead Lofts, helmed by Paolino Properties, sit in the heart of the action on Dorrance Street (same building as the Dunkin’). The apartments occupy the building’s second to fifth floors.

According to an application for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, Case-Mead (1859) once housed an infantry hall on its fourth floor. During the late nineteenth century, “the infamous Turkish Parlor — an ill-reputed gathering place where, it was rumored, brazen women smoked — was located on the second floor.”

So, “brazen women” looking for a new pad: Your mother ship is calling you home.

Eight one-bedroom apartments ring in at 458 square feet of living space; twelve studio apartments are 350 square feet; and twenty-four micro-lofts boast just 237 square feet of space. Prices range from $900 to $1,850 per month. Paolino Properties is currently accepting rental applications, with an occupancy date slated for December of this year.

According to former Providence mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr., managing partner of Paolino Properties, the project is a targeted response to the changing priorities of twenty-first century renters.

“In real estate today, the millennial population is more dominant in the way real estate is utilized,” he says. “Following market trends, people are interested in having less and paying less.”

Paolino also points to the shared economy as a driver towards smaller, more economical living situations.

“People are sharing apartments among colleagues and sometimes strangers,” he says. “You’ll have a three bedroom apartment occupied by three strangers who are sharing the common spaces. Micro-lofts, studio and one-bedroom apartments are ideally suited for those who want smaller places.”

Case-Mead is the second major micro-loft project in Providence since the re-opening of the Providence Arcade in late 2013. Another project, marketed towards college students, is slated to open next spring.

Nilsson, Casey. “More Micro-Lofts Are Coming to Downtown.” Rhode Island Monthly, 2017 August 22. Accessed November 21, 2022 from https://www.rimonthly.com/more-micro-lofts-are-coming-to-downtown/

  1. Bramson, Kate. “Case Mead building.” Providence Journal, 2017 January 13. Accessed November 21, 2022 from https://www.providencejournal.com/story/news/2017/01/13/case-mead-building/21918101007/