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Garden

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1960s, Christopher Tunnard, landscape architect

At the center of the block is a neighborhood garden, hidden from the street behind surrounding restored houses on Benefit, Jenckes, and Halsey streets and, at the top on Platt Street, by new row housing. With restricted access through the private yards of the bordering houses, it provides a handsome sequence of landscaped terraces that accommodate a variety of recreational activities for area residents, including play space for young children. It also exemplifies a communitarian alternative to the usual development of such blocks. Each house has its own limited yard and garden, beyond which each has its gate and key to the walled space shared in common.

Both the “secret garden” and the restoration of much of northern Benefit and its side streets depended on the vision and courage of an enterprising woman, Beatrice O. Chace, who dared to risk the purchase en masse of more than seventy decrepit old houses in the area, at a time when all were slated for demolition in the advance of urban renewal. She gradually sold the restored shells (some having the remnants of original interiors, others not, with owners given latitude inside as to how to adapt them). In this way she virtually salvaged this entire section of the Hill singlehandedly.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Data

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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Garden", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-PR69.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 74-75.

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