Images of this Property
12 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions from the National Register Nomination form
About this Property
The Simmons Building was the birthplace of the Davol Rubber Company, which was founded in 1874 by Joseph Davol. The building was named after his grandfather in-law, Eban Simmons. By 1884 new buildings were being constructed on a larger plot of land diagonally across the street for what would become the bulk of the Davol Rubber complex.
This building was subleased to various small businesses soon after the main operations of the Davol Company moved across Point Street. In the early 1900s, the building once again was used by the Davol Rubber company and an elevated walkway connected it to the main building at the second floor level.
By 1977, all buildings were vacated by the company for newer facilities in Cranston. In 1980 the property was nominated for the National Register by Jeffrey Blydenburgh, then architect with Beckman Blydenburg & Associates. Mr. Blydenburgh was chief architect and planner for the redevelopment of the Davol complex into what is now known as Davol Square. From his current LinkedIn bio:
My major achievement at B.B. & A. was the adaptive reuse of the Davol Rubber Company into Davol Square. In 1980 it was the largest historic tax act project in the state of Rhode Island.1
As part of the redevelopment of the main Davol complex, the original plan called for the Simmons building to be turned into loft condominiums. Narragansett Electric sued to block that part of the project, however, saying that tenants would file nuisance lawsuits over pollution and noise if they lived so close to both the Manchester Station and the South Street power plants.2
Because of that lawsuit, the Simmons Building became a rental property instead, hosting a wide variety of business over the years. Some that we could find in old news reports include the Wickenden Gate Theater3, Harbour Point Financial Group4, DeVille’s Cafe5 (about 1993–1995), and SBI6, a photography equipment retailer.
In 2006, Brown University announced that it would buy seven buildings in the city’s Jewelry District for future expansion of the university’s life science and medical programs. The properties included 1 and 10 Davol Square.7 We were able to verify the purchase of this building for the price of $5,377,000 in early 2007.8
In October 2017, the Coastal Medical Group acquired the property from Brown University.9
10 Davol Square is home to different tenants on each floor. The Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a tenant since 2014, is still located on the first floor while Coastal Medical is the anchor tenant on upper floors.
From the National Register Nomination form prepared for Davol Rubber, 1980
[…] In 1880 the Simmons Building, the first substantial building of the complex, was completed. This building, located at 419 Eddy Street and named after its builder Eban Simmons, is a long, rectangular, four-story, flat-roofed, brick building with granite belt courses above rectangular windows and, at ground level, cast-iron storefronts that face on Point Street and Eddy Street.
The Simmons Building housed all of Davol’s operations until 1884 when the first structure of the main complex, north of Point Street, was constructed to provide room for expansion. The Simmons Building stands alone but is connected to the main complex by an overhead metal-clad conveyor which traverses the intersection of Point and Eddy Streets on the diagonal. […]
The Simmons Building features a cast-iron storefront with windows that admit light to the basement, hand-finished face brick set with narrow mortar joints, granite belt courses and original twelve-over-twelve double-hung windows. The major alteration to this building is a stair/elevator tower attached to the Eddy Street side.
From “Downtown Providence: Statewide Historical Preservation Report P-P-5,” prepared by the RIHPHC, May 1981
[…] The original site of the Davol Rubber Company was near the site of the planing works owned by [Joseph] Davol’s grandfather in-law, Eban Simmons. […] In the late 1880s and 1890s the Simmons Building was occupied mainly by jewelry manufacturers, but by the early 20th century it was reoccupied by the Davol Rubber Company. […] In 1969 Davol, Inc., built an additional plant in Cranston, and in 1977 the company vacated its Point Street plant for a modern factory in North Carolina. The Davol Rubber Company Complex is currently being developed for adaptive re-use.
#In The News
Simmons Building opening in month
by Clyde H. Harrington
Providence Journal | October 16, 1983 (abridged)
The 1880 Simmons Building, the first structure of what eventually became the multi-building Davol Company complex, is being converted into retail and office space in a reconstruction project that should be completed within a few weeks.
Originally, the owners had planned a three-way conversion involving 21 condominium apartments. However, there were disputes revolving around present or potential pollution from nearby Narragansett Electric Co. and these and other factors led the controlling partnership to eliminate housing from the building plans.
Ownership, today, is by Simmons Building Associates, of which MDC Partners Associates is general partner. Marathon Development, the owner of the entire Davol Square complex, is the general partner in MDC.
Renovation of the building — including creation of an attached four-story, 4,000-square-foot “greenhouse” in the rear and of a 3,000-square-foot penthouse or “monitor” on the roof — is costing a little more than $1 million, according to Robert P. Freeman, board chairman of Marathon. […]
Richard H. Lefebvre, vice president, commercial real estate, of Marathon Property Co. says that in view of the proximity of the building both to the Rhode Island Hospital and to the Garrahy Judicial Complex, the marketing effort for the office space in the building is being aimed particularly at the medical services and the legal community. […]
A special feature of each floor will be 1,000 square feet of the planned greenhouse. Rising on the southern face of the building, the greenhouse will be ideal, Lefebvre says, for conference rooms.
The greenhouse, or, to be precise, passive solar retrofit system, will provide some heat for the building. The Providence firm of Beckman, Blydenburgh, which specializes in solar architecture, has received a special award for its design of the Simmons Building system. Since the Simmons Building is in the National Historic Register, the planned retrofit has to conform to the original 19th Century design of the building.
The final decision to erect the monitor was reached only a couple of months ago, according to Freeman. It may be leased as a single unit or divided to provide three, “duplexes” involving a combination of rooftop and fourth floor (loft) space. […]
Luckily, says architect Jeffrey Blydenburgh, the part of the building scheduled for retrofit faces the north, which makes the greenhouse a desireable [sic] selling point. Furthermore, the addition will serve as a sun collector, utilizing the building’s brick masonry mass for thermal storage.
This passive solar feature is expected to supply some of the building’s heating requirements but in general, Lefebvre says, a small amount of water, heated by gas, will pass through the entire building and each office or store will extract the desired heat via its own heat pump. […]
[The greehouse was never constructed, and we could not find any reasons why.]
The Simmons Building, itself, occupies one, triangular end of a 19,00 4square foot lot bounded by Point and Eddy Streets.
The contractor for the current work, which got underway about three weeks ago, is Anthony Nunes, Inc., of Bristol. The architectural firm continues to be Beckman, Blydenburgh, and Lefebvre and Sherman are the marketing agents.
ASKED IF the Marathon group were not uneasy about its current investment in the Simmons Building, Lefebvre replied that “If we didn’t have Davol Square right across the street, we’d be extremely nervous.”
But, he went on, Davol Square does have CE Maguire, Commonwealth Mortgage, Rhode Island Group Health, and Connecticut Mutual, plus a multitude of smaller establishments.
“We’ve created a community there,” he says. “Today, all but 660 square feet of our retail space is taken and we have only 8,000 feet of office space to let.”
The Simmons Building, which was erected by money borrowed by the original Joseph Davol from his father-in-law, Eban Simmons, originally had its own heating plant, located on land behind the building, on Point Street.
While the structure initially housed the actual manufacturing operations, as the Davol complex across the street continued to grow the Simmons Building became the principal home of the company’s laboratory functions, Lefebvre says.
HARRINGTON, CLYDE H.. “Simmons Building opening in month.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. BUSINESS, 16 Oct. 1983, pp. G-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525C236690AF928. Accessed 28 Dec. 2021.
Jeffrey Blydenburgh work experience, Partner, Beckman Blydenburgh & Associates, 1977 – 1985. Captured December 27, 2021 from https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreyblydenburgh/ ↩
SEAVOR, JIM. “Developers are betting millions that old Davol Square has future.” Providence Journal (RI), NORTH-WEST ed., sec. NEWS, 30 July 1982, pp. C-03. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525C389097036C8. Accessed 28 Dec. 2021. ↩
SEAVOR, JIM. “‘Talking With…’ is warm and winning.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. ARTS, 22 Sept. 1987, pp. A-12. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525298C6B8A3998. Accessed 26 Dec. 2021. ↩
“Business notes.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. BUSINESS, 9 Dec. 1984, pp. F-22. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525C11EAF823758. Accessed 26 Dec. 2021. ↩
“Lesbian, gay group to host dinner, dance for flood victims.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. NEWS, 24 Aug. 1993, pp. C-19. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152523A28AA58278. Accessed 26 Dec. 2021. ↩
ROCKOFF, JONATHAN D.. “Burst main disrupts service, but damage is minor.” Providence Journal (RI), Metro ed., sec. News, 22 Dec. 1999, pp. C-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152513D688CCFDA0. Accessed 26 Dec. 2021. ↩
JORDAN and GREGORY SMITH, JENNIFER D.. “Brown’s major move — Plans to buy 7 buildings in Jewelry District.” Providence Journal (RI), All ed., sec. News, 25 Oct. 2006, pp. A-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152427528B186888. Accessed 26 Dec. 2021. ↩
Providence RI Tax Assesor’s Database, Vision Goverment Solutions, for 82 Point Street, https://gis.vgsi.com/providenceri/Parcel.aspx?pid=40323. Accessed 27 Dec, 2021, ↩