Church Hill Grammar School

also known as Edward J. Creamer Pawtucket School Administration Building

A more than century old ornate schoolhouse has been converted to fourteen apartments as part of the nearby Slater Cotton development

About this Property


This handsome brick, granite, and brownstone building was a grammar school until 1949 and served as a school administration building until about 2006. At the time that it was added to the National Register in 2008, it was vacant.

Starting in 2018, a $2M development converted the former school and school administration building into 14 market rate residential units.1 Historic tax credits were secured for the project, one of the few applied to a project in Pawtucket in recent years. The project was completed in 2021.2

In 2020, the project was given a Rhody Award for Historic Preservation. In its write up, credit was given to its developers, for whom we could find very little about:

[…] Built in 1889-90 to designs by William R. Walker & Son, the Church Hill Grammar School is a handsome red brick building with Queen Anne-style details and a large square belltower. Developer Everett Amaral initiated a project to rehab the building for office tenants, and the team at Caragh Development completed the project for residential use. Careful attention to detail and restoration of key historic features such as the stairways “ensure that this proud school building endures as a Pawtucket landmark.”3

Current Events

Fourteen apartments are located inside this former school building. We can not find a single resource for apartment listings at this location. The sign on the door in photo 2024-07 labels this as Building IV in the Slater Cotton Mill complex.


Not listed as part of the adjacent Church Hill Historic District, but independently listed on the National Register.

From the National Register nomination form, Elizabeth Porterfield, 2008

The Church Hill Grammar School is a former school building designed and erected in 1889-1890 by the prolific Providence architecture firm of William R. Walker and Son. The building is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Park Place and Church Street fronting Wilkinson Park in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Situated between several extant mill buildings comprising the Church Hill Industrial District to the west, Pawtucket’s downtown commercial district to the north and east, and modern infill associated with the development of Interstate 1-95 to the south, the former school building remains part of a small enclave of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century residential, institutional, and religious structures flanking a small urban park. The building is sited near the southeast corner of the property, immediately at the edge of the sidewalk on Church Street. A small grassed area is located in front of the school along Park Place, while the rear and north sides of the building are paved parking lots.

Designed in the Queen Anne style, the brick building features a cross-gable slate roof, a large, square bell tower, two arched shed-roof entrance porches on either side of the projecting façade (east elevation), and a variety of paired and triple window openings that have for the most part been filled with mid-twentieth-century aluminum replacement sash. The interior circulation spaces remain basically intact, with original headboard wainscoting, plaster walls, and original staircases. The former classroom spaces have been subdivided with modern partitions and walls, and acoustical tile ceilings and fluorescent lighting have been added throughout the interior. Many of these alterations appear to be removable, however, and cover largely intact original finishes. Despite the incorporation of these later materials, the building retains a high degree of historic and architectural integrity


The Church Hill Grammar School is a two-and-one-half-story, brick and granite-trimmed, Queen Anne style school building. It has a complex plan, with a primary T-shaped mass topped by a steeply pitched, cross-gable roof, and secondary masses filling the inner coiners of the T: an end-gable pavilion on the north and a bell tower on the south. A broad projecting front-gable facade faces east onto Park Place. Original masonry work was provided by Robert Wilson of Pawtucket.

The most prominent feature is the square-plan, four-story, pyramidal-roof bell tower on the south elevation. The symmetrical three-bay facade (east elevation) is flanked on either side by shed-roof arched entrance porches. The school features a slate roof with a central brick chimney and brick corbelling at the roofline. The brick exterior walls are accented with quarry-faced brownstone window lintels and sills, and a continuous projecting granite band along the east, north, and south elevations that serves as both a water table above the basement and sill for the first-floor windows. The building rests on a high brick foundation. Originally the coping of the front and side gables was embellished with decorative finials in the form of miniature cross gables at the roof peak and small end gables at the bottom of the rake above corbelled brackets. This roofline was removed and simplified in the 1970s and replaced with plain metal coping. The original chimney featured decorative recessed panels, both rectangular and arched, but this was replaced with a plain slab-form chimney during a 1970s reconstruction. […]

The bell tower features paired arched belfry openings with replacement louvers at the top floor; brick corbelling at the cornice; and a slate roof capped in copper. A weather vane initially crowned the tower. The tower originally housed a large bell cast in 1843 that was thought to have been in the cupola of a prior 1841 Church Hill Schoolhouse formerly on the site. The bell was removed in 1975 and placed inside the newly constructed Jenks Junior High School in Pawtucket. […]


An 1889 newspaper article about the proposed school building confirms that the original interior plan of the building is largely intact, despite the presence of many later additions. It consists of a central transverse (north-south) hallway on the first and second floors flanked by a staircase at each end and former classrooms on the east and west. Two staircases are located in the building: a large open-well, triple-run staircase with quarter landings at the north side of the building, and a differently configured staircase in the bell tower at the south side of the building, with triple runs and quarter landings between first and second and four runs and landings between second and third floor.

Both the first and second floors contained a large east classroom 35 by 40 feet and two smaller west classrooms 30 by 34 feet, with twelve-foot ceilings. […] Interior finishes included “mahoganized” white wood trim, beadboard wainscoting up to the chalkboards, and 5-foot-high wainscoting in the hallways and staircases. […] The third floor was to be left unfinished for use as an assembly hall. Ceilings on the third floor were 9 feet high at the perimeter and fifteen feet high at the center, following the pitch of the roof. […]

Church Hill Grammar School was remodeled in 1950-1954 after its conversion to a school administration building in 1949. Today, some of the interior spaces of the Church Hill Grammar School, most notably within the former classrooms, have been altered by the incorporation of modern materials. Most of the original classrooms have been subdivided into office spaces with prefabricated paneled and glass partitions and studded paneled walls. […] Despite these modern materials, however, many original finishes such as plaster walls, ceilings, original floor surfaces, columns, and other surfaces remain intact behind the newer finish. Many of the modern materials appear to be removable.

Pawtucket School Buildings in the Nineteenth Century

[…] When the City of Pawtucket was incorporated in 1886 […] many of Pawtucket’s school buildings from the earlier part of the nineteenth century were outdated, overcrowded, and in deplorable condition. As one newspaper article stated, “… High Street, Church Hill, and Grove Street… have gone to decay, are damp, dark, and dreary, and need to be torn down,” and in regard to the old Church Hill School, “the whole trap ought to be condemned. It is not fit for children to go into.” Overcrowding of public schools was a significant concern, as mill construction attracted large numbers of immigrants, and the population of Pawtucket more than tripled between 1875 and 1920. Beginning in the mid-1870s, Pawtucket undertook significant efforts to improve and expand public services, and new school construction was no exception.

In 1889-1890, when the extant Church Hill Grammar School was constructed, it was the sixth brick school building to be built within four years, as brick school buildings were gradually replacing the former wooden schoolhouses in an effort to modernize Pawtucket schools. The old Church Hill School closed in June 1889 and the building was sold at auction. The new Church Hill Grammar School was dedicated in September 1890. In 1891, the former 1843 wooden Grove Street schoolhouse at Grove and Spring streets, was replaced with a brick school building by the same architectural firm that designed the new Church Hill School. The 1891 Grove Street School, by William R. Walker & Son, looked remarkably similar to the Church Hill School with a nearly identical bell tower and gabled facade. It has since been demolished. […]

[…] The Church Hill Grammar School is one of the two known extant William R. Walker & Son school buildings existing in Pawtucket, and despite conversion to an administration building and its current state of vacancy, retains a high degree of architectural integrity.

Original National Register nomination form available from the National Park Service (pdf)

  1. Shorey, Ethan. “Investment blooming near future train station.” Valley Breeze, 09 October 2018. Accessed 13 March 2024 from 

  2. Judson, Abigail. “Train station project moving along; Shri project commencing.” Valley Breeze, 15 December 2021. Accessed 13 March 2024 from 

  3. “Pawtucket wins big at Rhody Awards for Historic Preservation.” Valley Breeze, 17 November 2020. Accessed 13 March 2024 from