M.N. Cartier & Sons

also known as American Building Company, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company

A neglected little brick Greek-revival building vacant and boarded up since a fire in the 1990s succumbed to extensive roof damage in 2020

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

City records from 1983 put a restaurant on the first floor of this building with a night club on the second floor. Previous to that, many businesses came and went inside this modest structure. The owner for which it is named apparently only occupied it for a few years.

The interior of the structure was heavily damaged from fire and neglect, though it stood vacant for over 20 years. Sections of the floors were missing and it looked like there might have been the start of some reconstruction at some point. Weather and vandalism slowly decayed the structure.


The building is a red-brick-clad 2-story square plan with a central entrance. It’s central pedimented parapet suggest a small Greek temple. Three oval windows are placed under the pediment, above the second story windows. Three bays wide, with 2 window openings per bay on the facade. All windows have granite sill slabs. The rear and sides of the building are unadorned and simple, almost industrial in the layout of openings.

Current Events

Since about 2003, a vinyl sign on the side of the property advertised impending condominium apartments. That was the thing to do, of course, in the early aughts. We love how the year had quotes around it, because, “2004” came and went without any sign of redevelopment at this location.

In November 2020, a heavy rainstorm damaged the roof and part of it collapsed. 20+ years of neglect took its toll and took the building down with it. It was razed in late November, 2020.


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

It is a two-story, flat-roof, brick structure with a pedimented parapet centrally located on its façade. The first floor of the building has been boarded up, following a fire here in the 1990s. The building’s six-bay façade features classical elements including a symmetrical façade, oval windows with keystones set below the parapet, projecting piers between each bay, and stone sills. Side and rear elevations of the structure lack architectural ornamentation. Fenestration consists of regularly-spaced, replacement 1/1 sash windows. Paved parking lots are located to the east and west, both bound by chain link fencing.

The original owner of the building was the American Building Company (incorporated 1906), which occupied the building from 1892 to 1907. The property was purchased by Michel N. Cartier in 1907 for $13,175; the 1908 map identifies M.N. Cartier at this address. M.N. Cartier & Sons Co. were wholesalers of roofing materials including roof paints, concreters supplies, conductor pipe, eave troughs, metals, etc…1 They were also contractors for high grade slag and gravel roofing and concreting. City directories list the company as the largest receivers of roofing materials in New England.

A Baptist Church by the name of “Union St. Jean Baptiste Amerique” purchased the building in 1910 and retained ownership until 1919. The property changed hands several times between 1919 and 1935 when it was purchased by the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. John Hancock remained at the 1107 Westminster site from 1935 to 1941. Several small firms occupied space in the building throughout the mid-twentieth century. The 1983 Sanborn map identifies the building as a restaurant with a club on the second floor. A fire occurred in the late 1990s that damaged the interior of the structure severely. According to city directories, the current owner of the building is Perfection Iron Works.

  1. While researching another property, we noticed that “M.N. Cartier & Sons” appears at a location along Canal Street at Otis Street in what is now Roger Williams National Park. They seem to have maintained two locations. Map found at https://sosri.access.preservica.com/uncategorized/IO_c82222b2-d07d-45bf-9526-99a4d742c58b/