Images of this Property
20 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contribution from the Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library and the Providence Historical Aerial Viewer
About this Property
The C.J. Fox company was founded in 1895 and incorporated in 1903 by Charles J. Fox.1 The company grew to about 100 employees and concentrated on paper packaging products for local jewelry manufacturers and had a sister corporation, Fox Tag & Label.
In 2005, daughter of Charles J. Fox, Jr., Jill Fox Tobak was appointed President. Tobak was 54 at the time and most recently held the position of Vice President of Marketing. She had worked at the firm for 25 years prior and was a graduate of the University of Rhode Island.2
What must have been fairly shortly after 2005, the Fox family sold the company to an out-of-state buyer. The property remained vacant for some years before being purchased by the Omni Group for $1.6 million in mid-February, 2013.3
The development of this parcel included the demolition of several structures. A neighboring one-story, concrete block building known as the Crahan Engraving Company (240 Aborn & 10 Cedar) set with a chamfered corner on Aborn Street was demolished for parking4 along with another concrete block, two-story building with a slight hip roof to the west (15 Cedar).
The Crahan Engraving Company was built in 1929 and produced photo engravings in half tone and color markers of high grade printing plates. After 1944 it was home to the Watchemoket Optical Company Inc.5
The “Deal Knife Company” appears as a 1-story wooden building attached to a 2-story brick structure on the south side in 1920. In a 1939 map the building is unlabelled and still wooden. By 1951, the wooden building looks to have been replaced by the concrete block structure but the 2-story brick building to the south is still present. The brick building was present back to the 1889 map.
By a 1908 map, the long 4-story, 24 bay deep mill was in place to the northwest of three older structures, with the oldest wooden structure likely predating the 1868 building still standing.
The oldest portion of the complex was a 3-story wooden-frame building on the northeast corner of the parcel, visible in the vintage photo, and seems to have been demolished in the late 1950s according to aerial photos. This would have been right before or at the same time that other buildings to the east were demolished to make way for the new interstate highway in the early 1960s. It is possible this structure pre-dated the remaining 1868 brick structures.
In the 1920 map, the original Rhode Island Braiding Machine buildings were labelled Numbers 1, 2, and 3 from north to south and likely from oldest to newest. Building 2 was demolished as part of the redevelopment of this parcel, leaving the northern wall of Building 3 exposed and eventually inclosed by a glass curtain wall.
The building is now called One Cedar and it is part of the Omni Groups’s West Exchange Center campus of office and commercial spaces.
From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002, hosted by ProvPlan.org (now defunct)
222 Aborn Street and 2 Fox Place R.I. Braiding Machine Company / C. J. Fox Company (1868, early 20th century).
A four-story brick mill building (2 Fox Place) with heavy brick piers, segmented arch windows, a corbelled cornice, and star-shaped iron brace caps. Window openings have been filled in with brick and concrete block and feature a combination of fixed sash and glass block. The primary entrance is offset on the façade with in a round-arch, recessed opening. The modern metal-and-glass door sits below a transom. Iron fire escapes line the west elevation of the building. A huge mural showing the company’s mascot, a stylized red fox, is painted on the eastern side of the building.
2 Fox Place has been described by RIHPHC as an early twentieth century classic multi-story loft-style industrial building with an earlier altered building now attached on the east (222 Aborn Street, ca. 1868). The attached building has a separate history until the mid-twentieth century. Fenestration on the façade (north elevation) of the hip-roof, three-story block has been filled in and a brick smokestack remains on the north elevation. Fenestration on the east elevation has been boarded up with several replacement 1/1 sash in the southern bays. A modern prefab metal section (1966) has been added to the southeast of the four-story block, connecting it to the earlier, three-story block to the east. A one-story, concrete block loading dock with two vehicular bays is located to the north of the 1966 addition. The property appears to be National Register eligible. The Fox building is a good example of nineteenth-century industrial architecture in a manufacturing belt that once stretched from LaSalle Square in downtown Providence to West Exchange Street at the northern base of Federal Hill.
222 Aborn Street originally housed the R.I. Braiding Machine Company, which built machinery for textile mills. The property at 222 Aborn Street changed hands in 1927 when it was acquired by the Edmands Company. 2 Fox Place was owned by James Hanley throughout the early twentieth century. The 1919 Sanborn map identifies the building that is now 2 Fox Place as the Rhode Island Braiding Machine Co. The three-story brick structure housed the erecting shop on the first floor, pattern shop on the second, and manufacturing on the third. 2 Fox Place housed jewelry firms on each floor. The C.J. Fox Company acquired 2 Fox Place in 1945 and 222 Aborn Street in 1958 and continues to use the complex as a factory and warehouse for packaging products. The company appears in mid-to-late twentieth century directories with Chas J. Fox listed as company president.
- 1889 Sanborn Insurance map, Vol. 1, Plate 4
- 1920–1921 Sanborn Insurance map, Vol. 1, Plate 8
- 1939 G.M. Hopkins Map, Plate 4
- 1920–1951 Sanborn Insurance map, Vol. 1, Plate 8
- 1920–1956 Sanborn Insurance map, Vol. 1, Plate 8
#In the News
Omni Group buys Fox building in Providence
by Paul Grimaldi
Providence Journal | March 7, 2013
A factory building motorists along Route 95 may recognize by the red fox painted on its side is among a group of buildings purchased recently by a real estate firm in the city.
The Omni Group in mid-February paid $1.6 million for 2 Fox Place and five other properties that once made up the C.J. Fox Co. complex off West Exchange Street, said Omni president William DiStefano Jr. C. Joseph Fox founded the packaging manufacturing firm in 1895. The manufacturer was sold some years ago.
The private Omni firm has rebuilt much of the area between Atwells Avenue and West Exchange Street since 2006 as an office complex. Omni will raze some structures on the Fox properties and convert other space to offices.
Grimaldi, Paul. “Omni Group buys Fox building in Providence.” Providence Journal (RI), All ed., sec. breaking_news, 7 Mar. 2013. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1524214E567EBA60. Accessed 4 Feb. 2022.
Businessman Charles J. Fox Jr. dies; former CEO of the C.J. Fox Company
|Providence Journal||July 7, 1996 (abridged)|
Charles J. Fox Jr., a prominent business leader in Providence for more than 50 years, CEO and former president of the C.J. Fox Company, a local packaging manufacturing company, died Wednesday at the Philip Hulitar Hospice Center. He was the husband of Claire Fox.
A lifelong resident of Providence, he was born on June 30, 1918, to the late C. Joseph Fox and Elsie Herz Fox. He graduated cum laude from Moses Brown School in 1936 and received a bachelor of science in economics from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania in 1940.
Soon after college graduation, Mr. Fox entered the packaging company founded by his father in 1895. In his 54 years with the C.J. Fox Company, the business grew from 35 to more than 100 employees. Instrumental in expanding the company’s product lines from boxes and tags to pressure sensitive labels and plastic display cards, Mr. Fox, with his brother, Robert Fox, introduced innovative marketing and manufacturing techniques to the business. Mr. Fox, who was called CJ by friends and family, was known to walk around the factory and personally thank each employee upon handing them their paycheck.
“Businessman Charles J. Fox Jr. dies; former CEO of the C.J. Fox Company.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. NEWS, 7 July 1996, pp. B-08. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/15251FE528F07FD0. Accessed 4 Feb. 2022.
Information from OpenCorporates.com, captured February 4, 2022 from https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_ri/000007334 ↩
“Biz Bits & Quips.” Providence Journal (RI), All ed., sec. Business, 31 July 2005, pp. M-02. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/15242875799CD338. Accessed 4 Feb. 2022. ↩
“News.” Providence Journal (RI), 1 ed., sec. News, 8 Mar. 2013, p. MAIN_06. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152421102C7564B8. Accessed 4 Feb. 2022. ↩
“Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002. ↩