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The Lark: Vol 1, Issue 1, July 2021



Events offered by the Cultural Events Committee (CEC) serve the purpose of providing an intersection between LLC class material and extra opportunities that are available within Providence and in the larger community.

As its inaugural event this year, the CEC designed a walking tour of one Providence neighborhood.



“What makes history happen? Much of the past is the way it is because of choices people made; how they solved problems and how they treated one another. By knowing this story, we begin to understand who we are.” Elementary school textbook

On June 26 and 27, Barbara Barnes, Beverly Pettine, and Barbara Zdravesky explored the site of Providence’s original settlement (Roger Williams National Memorial Park today), Meeting Street, and the north end of Benefit Street to:

  • acknowledge the lives and work of Native Americans, British immigrants, African Americans, both slave and free, European Jews, and mid-20th century preservationists.
  • highlight successes, failures, problems, solutions, and changes.

Tour participants traveled from 17th century with the Wampanoag and Narragansett Native Americans and the arrival of Roger Williams and White European immigrants through 18th century development, 19th century prosperity, and 20th century’s role in displacement and preservation.



  • A small courtyard that opens off North Main Street, constructed by the city of Providence in 1931-1933
  • Given to the city of Providence by Judge Jerome Hahn in memory of his father, Isaac Hahn, the first person of Jewish faith to be elected to public office from Providence
  • A 17th century freshwater spring was located here.

MEETING STREET – Originally called the Wampanoag Trail

  • John Carter House (1772) - Carter printed a newspaper, the Providence Gazette, publishing information on the abolition issue, including pro and anti-slavery views of John and Moses Brown. Carter freed two African American members of his household in 1789.
  • Old Brick Schoolhouse (1769) - First public school for African Americans from 1828 until 1866 when the system of segregation in Providence schools was abolished.
  • Tourist Homes - “The Green Book”, the Negro Motorist Guidebook, (1936 – 1966) offered African American travelers a compilation of places where they could stay, eat, get gas, or even service their cars. No. 72, Hill Top Inn, near the Meeting Street steps, still stands.

BENEFIT STREET - This street and this neighborhood have many stories to tell.

“Although the Benefit Street neighborhood is known today for the historic preservation efforts made to restore and replace18th and 19th century buildings there during the mid 20th century, the area has also been "home" to African Americans, Jewish immigrants, and many more. There were houses and apartments, of course, but there were also civic buildings, small businesses, and places for children to play. The houses and businesses were well loved and well used.” (Barbara Barnes, CEC Chair)

  • #30 – William G. Angell, President of the American Screw Company, resided here.
  • #62 – In 1920, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, a sculptor, lived here. She was the first
    graduate of color from RISD.
  • #65 – The Jewish Community Center – From 1925 until 1950, there was likely no place more important than this Center which served as an educational, social and religious center that unified the community. In 1977, the lot was cleared, and a Greek Revival house from the west side of the city was moved to the location.


The following recent research that tells a more complete story of Providence and the Benefit Street neighborhood allowed us to create and to offer this tour:

  • A Matter of Truth, 2021. Keith Stokes, Theresa Guzman Stokes, with the support of The City of Providence, the Black Heritage Society, and the 1696 Heritage Group.
  • College Hill Historic District (Additional Documentation), 2018. The National Park Service and the RI State Preservation Office.
  • Catherine Zipf, Architectural Historian, for recent research (2016, 2019) and writing about the Negro Motorist Green Book.
  • The Benefit Street and Lippitt Hill Jewish Community, 1900 - 1940 by Jeremy Kaplan.
“No history is mute. No matter how much (anyone) owns it, breaks it, and lies about it, human history refuses to shut its mouth. Despite deafness and ignorance, the time that was continues to tick inside the time that is.”

From a writing by Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015), journalist and author from Uruguay