Images of this Property
14 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions from Pawtucket Library collection on Flickr
About this Property
The Greek Orthodox church next door came to own the former mansion in an interesting way. In 1996, as Interstate 95 was splitting Pawtucket in two, the church was forced to leave its building on George Street. They purchased the Read-Ott mansion and held services there until their new Byzantine-style building was finished.1
The mansion housed the church’s priest and included office space, meeting rooms, classrooms, and more. The current priest said his predecessor was the last to live in the house back in the 1990s.2
In 1992, the church created a memorandum of agreement to develop a comprehensive plan to maintain all of their properties. The church has never created the plan and, one can argue, has not maintained its properties equally. As early as 1997, the City found violations and pressed the church to complete necessary updates.3
In or around 2012, the church was seeking to demolish the building but efforts by neighbors in Quality Hill stopped it.4 The church had complained that to paint the large mansion cost a minimum of $10,000 and they would need to have it painted every five years, which they could not afford.5
In 2021, an abutting neighbor submitted a complaint to the City of Pawtucket about the condition of the house. The neighbor had been in a long-standing dispute with the church.6 The letter got the attention of local preservation groups and the news, which sparked the interest of a potential buyer. Their offer was rejected by leadership and the congregation.7 The price offered was equal to demolition — $250,000.
The church and the city had been in negotiations and in and out of Municipal Court over the condition of the building for about two years. In February 2023, the process of seeking a demolition permit began. The church will need to wait six months before demolition can be granted, during which time a case may be made to deny or supply the permit.8:
The home as originally built in 1842 was a fine example of the Italianate style — symmetrical design with windows more tall than they are wide, central portico and bay window, cornice with decorative brackets, and low roof with central cupola. At the time, the home sat away from Walcott Street and had a wide front yard as well.
Around 1914, the home changed hands from John Read’s widow, Jane Thatcher Ingraham, to Joseph Ott and family. The Ott family with architect W.G. Sheldon converted the home to a Georgian/Greek Revival or Neoclassical style and increased its size by adding a full third story. The two-story, Ionic-columned front porch and simpler cornice design were the dominant changes to the exterior along with the extra floor.
The house is currently within a six-month waiting period to see if it can saved or if the City will have no choice but to issue a demolition permit. While listed in the National Register’s Quality Hill Historic District, there are no protections or monies available to save it if the owner’s choose demolition.
From the National Register nomination form for the Quality Hill Historic District
Read-Ott House (1842; 1914-15): A 2 1/2-story, five-bay, Greek/Italianate house of the mid-nineteenth century given a full third story and a wealth of Georgian Revival details in the early twentieth century (W.G. Sheldon, architect for remodeling). Chief among these later details is the two-story, balustraded front portico. It was originally built for John B.Read, a hardware merchant and was remodeled for Joseph Ott, founder of the Royal Weaving Company.
From the RIHPHC Statewide Historical Preservation Report, Pawtucket RI, 1978
(Page 58) Read-Ott House 1842, 1914-1915; W. G. Sheldon, architect for remodeling, A 2 1⁄2-story, 5-bay, Greek Revival-Italianate house given a full third story and a wealth of Georgian Revival details in the early 20th century. Built for John B. Read, a hardware merchant: remodeled for Joseph Ott, founder of the Royal Weaving Company.
About John Read
READ, John Blake, a prominent hardware merchant of Pawtucket, was born in Eastport, Me., Dec. 2, 1802, and died in Pawtucket, Feb. 27, 1862. He was the son of Jonathan and Dorothy (Blake) Read, both of whom lived to a great age. Jonathan Read was an old soldier and was a prisoner on the old Jersey prison ship during the revolution. He died when 91 years old, and was the father of 13 children, 12 of whom grew to maturity. John B. was next to the youngest. When five years of age his parents removed to Westbrook, where he was sent to a district school until he was 14 years of age. At this time he went to work in a tin shop, living with his oldest sister while he learned the trade. In 1821 he came to Pawtucket, where he remained during the rest of his life, and for nearly half a century was in the hardware trade. His shop was opened on Main street, on the site where the John B. Read block now stands, and was located about where James A. Slattery’s drug store is. In 1842 he built his residence, where his widow now lives, on Walcott street, and in 1850 he erected the brick block, which now numbers 176 to 180 Main street. The block next to it was built by Amos M. Read, his older brother, who was also a hardware merchant. The Reads were the oldest and most prominent merchants in their line of business for many years. Amos Read came to Pawtucket several years before John. He died in 1880, a very old man. Nov. 17, 1828, Mr. Read was married to Jane Thatcher Ingraham, only child of Elias and Phebe (Thatcher) Ingraham of Attleboro, Mass. Her father was a mechanic, and died in 1847. Mrs. Read was born in Attleboro, Mass., June 5, 1809. In September, 1896, she visited the White Mountains, and enjoyed the trip as keenly as when in 1832, sixty-two years before, she, in company with her husband, made the same journey on horseback. Mr. and Mrs. Read also had but one child, Mary Drowne Read, afterwards the wife of Edward LeFavour. She died in 1858, after the birth of John Edward LeFavour, Mrs. Read’s grandson and her only descendant.
John B. Read was distinctively a business man. As a public spirited citizen, however, he was induced to accept various offices, such as town councilman, etc., all of which positions he filled with great credit to himself and to the best interests of his constituents. Politically he was a Whig, but at the formation of the Republican party before the war he became one of its staunchest members. When Pawtucket was a part of Massachusetts, he was elected to the lower house of the state legislature and served four years. He was a very popular man. For a long time he was commanding general of the Massachusetts militia.
Captured 19 March 2023 from http://theusgenweb.org/rigenweb/articles/107.html
About Joseph Ott
OTT, Joseph, third child of Jacob and Genevieve (Hodler) Ott, was born March 11, 1861, of Trochtelfingen, in the district of Hohenzollern, Germany. He attended school in his native town until he was 16 years old, when he entered the school of Art and Science at Reutlingen, Germany, from which he was graduated in 1878. He then entered a mill in Bavaria to obtain a practical knowledge of operating machinery and the details in the manufacturing of cloth. In 1880 he went to Augsburg as a designer, and later to Ash, in the silk district of Bohemia, where he remained until 1882 and acquired a knowledge of the manufacture of silk in all its details. He went next to Chemnitz, in Saxony, entering the employ of Goeritz Brothers, one of the largest silk manufacturers in that country.
To avoid military service he came to America in 1884 and connected himself with Coffin, Altemus & Co., of New York, as a designer. In 1885 he went with the Fare Alpaca Co., Holyoke, Mass., as a designer, and later with the Lyman Mill Co., of the same place, as superintendent, having charge of and successfully operating 1000 looms. A year later he came to Slater Cotton Co., Pawtucket, and remained in its employ until 1888 when, deciding to operate on his own account, he devoted a year to perfecting a loom for weaving silk, fine cotton and worsted, in which he succeeded, and began business with eight looms in the old Hicks building off East avenue. The enterprise prospered and later he associated with him as partners Daniel G. Littlefield and Darius Goff, and in May, 1889, the business was incorporated under the name of the Royal Weaving Co., and the plant was removed to the factory of the American Hair Cloth Co., corner Mill and Cross streets, Central Falls, and later to the new factory across the street from the hair cloth mill. This new mill is an unique structure and was specially constructed for delicate weaving, the light all being obtained from the roof.
Captured 19 March 2023 from http://theusgenweb.org/rigenweb/articles/106.html
#In the News
Church applies for demo permit on Read-Ott House
by Ethan Shorey
Valley Breeze | February 22, 2023
The end of the line for the historic Read-Ott House in the Quality Hill neighborhood now appears inevitable, after the city received a demolition permit application from its owner on Feb. 10.
Per city ordinance, the owner, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, now faces a six-month period before the demolition permit can be issued for the historic property.
City officials have not been active in attempting to save the old mansion, while preservationists have become increasingly pessimistic in recent months about saving it.
The owners have said nothing publicly about their intentions, but are widely believed to want the adjoining property for a new parking lot. They previously told a municipal court judge that they were raising funds to tear it down.
Listed in the Quality Hill Historic District as the 1842 Read-Ott House, the 6,000-square-foot mansion is a Greek Italianate house that was given a full third story and a wealth of Georgian Revival details in the early 20th century. W.G. Sheldon was the architect on the remodeling at the time, designing the most prominent added detail, the two-story, balustraded front portico.
The structure was originally built for John B. Read, a hardware merchant, and was remodeled for Joseph Ott, founder of the Royal Weaving Company.
Captured March 19, 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/townnews/architecture/church-applies-for-demo-permit-on-read-ott-house/article_f43590de-b139-11ed-a90d-2f22d333cc83.html
Shorey, Ethan. “Preservation Society focused on protecting Quality Hill landmarks.” Valley Breeze, 03 December 2019. Captured 19 March 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/news/preservation-society-focused-on-protecting-quality-hill-landmarks/article_6f8a17ea-8e37-5a26-a437-56d112a7f068.html ↩
Deluca, Zack. “Fate of Read-Ott House in question; resolutions being discussed.” Valley Breeze, 21 August 2022. Captured 19 March 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/townnews/building_industry/fate-of-read-ott-house-in-question-resolutions-being-discussed/article_21646c6a-27ab-11ed-bb0a-936f616e2888.html ↩
Shorey, Ethan. “City cites owners of Read-Ott mansion; future in doubt.” Valley Breeze, 01 December 2021. Captured 19 March 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/news/city-cites-owners-of-read-ott-mansion-future-in-doubt/article_cfa128ea-5132-11ec-b8aa-ff11e7f26c05.html ↩
“Preservation Society focused on protecting Quality Hill landmark.” ↩
“Fate of Read-Ott House in question; resolutions being discussed.” ↩
“City cites owners of Read-Ott mansion; future in doubt.” ↩
“Fate of Read-Ott House in question; resolutions being discussed.” ↩
Shorey, Ethan. “Church applies for demo permit on Read-Ott House.” Valley Breeze, 22 February 2023. Captured 19 March 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/townnews/architecture/church-applies-for-demo-permit-on-read-ott-house/article_f43590de-b139-11ed-a90d-2f22d333cc83.html ↩