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74 Dexter Street

Fruit Hill School: Help Me Tell This Story

921 Manton Ave.

Photo from PPS Website
Of all the buildings I have been tasked to explore over these ten weeks, I know the least about the Fruit Hill School on Manton Avenue. Or at least it used to be on Manton Avenue before it was demolished in 2002. I can’t find any images or information on flickr or google (the only image I have is to the left and one at the end of this post); nothing has turned up in the citywide survey, and there isn’t even any information in Art in Ruins, which I can usually trust to have something on everything! Now, I admit that I ran out of time to visit with my favorite librarian, Kate Wells at the Providence Public Library, nor did I approach my friends at the City Archives. But I call on you now! Providence nerds, unite! Let’s work together to tell the story of the Fruit Hill School.

Share your knowledge on twitter @pvdpreservation using #mep20

Have pictures?! Even better. Share those too.

Here is the little information that I do have:

  • It is sometimes referred to as the Fruit Hill School, and other times as the Manton Ave. School
  • The building was completed in c. 1900
  • It was located at 921 Manton Ave.
  • It was listed on PPS’s Most Endangered Properties list in 1998, 2001, and 2002
  • The school was not included in a national landmark district, making it that much more difficult to save
  • The building was demolished in 2002 to make room for a Hollywood Video, which later re-opened as a Family Dollar store

Here is a google street view image of what the property looks like today:

Google Street View, 921 Manton Ave.
And here is a very short audio clip of Paul Wackrow, Director of Preservation Services at PPS, discussing what he knows about the Fruit Hill school, and some of the considerations and challenges involved in saving old school buildings. Note that the school was demolished before Paul’s time at PPS.

And this is the one historic image I was able to find through the Public Library’s flickr site from 1925. While I can’t completely confirm that this photo is of the building in question, I am guessing it was. The caption reads: Manton Avenue Station – 1925 (Manton Ave. Grammar School)

school3 What do you know? Share with us on Twitter!

UPDATE 4/21/15 @10pm: WHAT YOU SAID:

Today a number of you helped to tell the story of the Fruit Hill School with tidbits of information shared in the comments below, on twitter and facebook. Here’s a recap of what you shared with me:

  • Michael Umbricht (@W9GYR) on twitter and Mary Kate Harrington on Facebook provided the most in depth resource on the building, by pointing me to the Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey. Considering that this survey was prepared by PPS (thank you Mary Kate!), I probably should have already known about it. Whoops! Good find.The survey notes that the building, a grammar school, was designed by William R. Walker & Sons and was completed in 1888 (notably earlier than c. 1900 as I previously wrote). The building was owned by the city until 1977, after which it was sold and resold a few times to various groups and individuals.
  • Susan Asselin (comment section below), Kim Smith Barnett on facebook, and Erik Gould (@clickerik) all mentioned an old stone wall remaining on the property. I was confused until I checked google street view again (below), and sure enough, there it was! When the school was torn down, the stone wall that wrapped around the building and a small set of stairs in the middle, were preserved thanks to the efforts of a local group of community activists. This is proof that even demolished buildings are worth a visit. You never know what you’ll find.

Google Street View Picture
I’ll continue to post anything you have to share! So please keep the conversation going!


Here is what you said on Twitter in regards to the Fruit Hill School 

Originally posted on April 21, 2015