PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — This month, a Providence home long respected for its historical significance will begin its second life. Brown has completed renovations for the house at 93 Benevolent St., where famed African-American artist Edward Mitchell Bannister lived in the late 19th century.
The renovation, undertaken as part of the University’s Brown to Brown Home Ownership Program (B2B), marks a significant milestone in the property’s history as it’s reintroduced to the College Hill community as a family residence.
Dressed in a two-tone wood siding, the home’s exterior now complements the surrounding neighborhood while maintaining its 19th century appeal. However, its interior features are more reminiscent of modern homes. Originally built in 1854 by engineer Charles E. Paine, the structure became well known for its former residents Bannister and his wife, Christiana, who rented the home until 1899. Bannister painted works that now reside in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“It was exciting to honor the legacy of Edward Bannister by restoring the exterior of the house to resemble its appearance at the time he occupied it with his wife,” said John Luipold, Brown’s assistant vice president for real estate. “This renovation continues the enhancement of the Benevolent Street neighborhood, where we have renovated six homes in the past several years.”
Brown acquired the Bannister House in disrepair in 1989, later adding it to the list of under-utilized homes to be renovated to improve the local community. Brown will sell the property to a member of the Brown community through the B2B program this summer, converting it to taxable real estate for the City of Providence, Luipold, said.
To celebrate the completion of the project and showcase the renovations, community members who supported the preservation of the property will attend a by-invitation open house on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
“Many important voices in the community, including the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, the Providence Preservation Society, Brown students, and local neighbors have been strong advocates for Brown’s restoration of the Bannister House,” Luipold said. “We are excited to share with the community the completion of the renovation.”
A plaque honoring the historical significance of the home will rest on the home’s southern exterior. It notes biographical information about the Bannisters and reads, in part: “Home of Christiana Carteaux Bannister and Edward Mitchell Bannister from 1884 to 1899, this property is closely associated with prominent members of Providence’s 19th-century African-American community.”
The University’s Department of Facilities Management led the renovation project, which began its design phase in April 2015, with construction commencing in July and ending in December. McGeorge Architecture Interiors and Legacy General Contracting served as the architect and general contractor on the project.