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About this Property
The rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the Summerfield Building (PAR Building) not only corrected deficiencies in the building’s window system, but also preserves the highly significant Albert Harkness-designed structure. Constructed in 1913, the reinforced concrete frame office building was the first of its type in Providence. The building’s broad expanses of glass exploited the possibilities of the new technology of the day.
The rehabilitation project illustrates Johnson & Wales’ commitment and contribution to downtown Providence as well as their sensitivity to this city landmark. The project team included Johnson & Wales University officials; Lamborghini/Feibelman Ltd. Architects; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.; Creative Environment Corp.; Gaskell Associates, Ltd.; Odeh Engineers; Dimeo Construction Co.; Cheviot Corporation; and historian Vivienne Lasky.
The building is still being used by Johnson & Wales University but it now houses Information Technology operations and goes by the name “Del Sesto” in the list of facilities.
From the National Register nomination form for the Downtown Providence Historic District, prepared by William McKenzie Woodward, Principal Historic Preservation Planner, 1984
Summerfield Building (1913): Albert Harkness, architect. 6-story, reinforced-concrete-frame building with glass walls of Chicago-type windows, terra-cotta piers and spandrels; elaborate cornice with egg-and-dart frieze; central decorative cartouche; wide eaves.
Built by the Harkness family as an investment property, this building takes its name from the Boston-based Summerfield Furniture Company, which occupied quarters here for many years. The building, having housed a number of smaller concerns in the 1960s and early 1970s, was bought by Johnson & Wales Business College and now houses offices and classrooms.
Undoubtedly one of the most handsome early 20th-century buildings in Downtown Providence, the Summerfield Building is noteworthy for its bold, simple lines, its use of expansive areas of glass, its handsome terra-cotta sheathing, and its simplified detailing evocative of Renaissance palazzi. Directly east of Abbott Park, it forms an effective frame for the oldest park in the city.