Kiernan Wholesale Drug Company

also known as 3 Ship Street Lofts, formerly J & H Electric

This handsome trapezoidal mill building with chamfered corner in the Jewelry District was converted to lofts in 2004.

About this Property


This was one of the smaller, local redevelopment projects during the hot boom time of the mid-2000s. The building had been sitting for 10 years but real estate in the Jewelry District was starting to become valuable again — just not as industrial space. This was when the District was just beginning its transformation into the “Knowledge District.”

Now called the Ship Street lofts at 3 Ship Street, these units are condos ranging from 1200 to almost 3000 square feet. Amenities include elevator, gated keyed parking lot, air conditioning, large thermopane windows, maple hardwood floors, and custom maple solid wood cabinetry.

They used to say “Steps away from Downcity” in their marketing material and we scoffed, but now with Interstate I-195 gone and the Knowledge District truly taking shape, Downcity has come to Ship Street.


From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002, hosted by (now defunct)

It is a three-story, brick, flat-roof building notable for its chamfered corner at the intersection of Richmond and Ship streets and the trapezoidal shape of the structure, which conforms to its corner lot. The building is embellished with brick corbelling and projecting brick piers between each bay. The building’s primary entrance is offset on the façade, within a recessed opening. The entrance features a replacement metal-and-glass door reached by a flight of concrete steps set below a neon sign on the Richmond Street side of the entry. A vehicular entrance with roll top door is located on the rear elevation. Fenestration consists of rectangular openings with single and paired, multi-light, fixed and awning sash; replacement single-light awning sash and some infill glass block on the first floor façade. Basement windows have been either bricked in or have glass block. A stairwell is located on the southeast corner of the building and features a painted sign reading: “J & H Electric Co.”. Visible beneath this sign is one advertising Kiernan Wholesale Drug Co (March 2003 #8). A brick chimney rises from the northeast corner of the building.

This structure was originally built by Kiernan Wholesale Drug Company around the year 1922-23. J & H Electric Co., which specialized in the supply and service of electric motors and electric motor parts such as bearings, industrial wire, drives and sheaves, and Browning V-Belts, moved into it in 1929. J & H, founded in 1906, had begun at 97 Chestnut Street, expanded to 155 Clifford Street and other locations before consolidating here in 1929. In 1931 it was reported in the Providence Board of Trade Journal that the company had undergone remarkable growth (Jewelry District National Register nomination form). They ran the company from this location through to at least 1990. The building is currently vacant and slated for conversion into condominiums.

From the National Register nomination form for the Providence Jewelry Manufacturing Historic District, 1985

200 Richmond Street – J. & H. Electric Company, originally Kiernan Wholesale Drug Company (1922-23): This is a 3-story, flat-roof, brick building with a steel frame and a raised basement. It has pier and panel exterior walls, with the piers rising up to a low parapet and the panels recessed, with corbeling at the top. Most of the large windows are filled with industrial sash, though aluminum-sash casement windows with red transom panels have been installed in some windows on the second floor, and glass blocks have been put in some of the first floor windows. The building, which conforms to its pentagonal corner lot, faces the intersection of Richmond and Ship Streets. The entrance is recessed with in the corner bay. A neon sign with the company name is attached to the Richmond Street side of the entrance.