Property Research

Property Research

How to Research a Providence Building

A simple guideline for people interested in knowing more about a place.

Researching Your House History (pdf)

A guide developed by the Providence City Archives

Online Resources

Guide to Providence Architecture

The guide is a user-friendly database of the buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods that make Providence special. The core text largely borrows from the 2003 AIAri guidebook, written by Wm McKenzie Woodward, with photographs by Warren Jagger. The site is easily searched and sorted by property, architectural style, designer, and neighborhood.

We have already added content-rich tours of the last several Festivals of Historic Houses, highlighting the history and architecture of the Paterson Park and Upper Elmwood neighborhoods, among others. Also available is a comprehensive tour of our Most Endangered Properties, which dot the entire city from Wanskuck to Lower South Providence. More properties and tours will be added to reflect the ongoing work of PPS.

We’ve designed the online guide for use on both computers and mobile phones, and we envision researchers, hobbyists, and visitors to Providence using it with equal gusto. Whether fact-checking a date of construction or exploring a new neighborhood, the Guide to Providence Architecture has already proven to be an indispensable tool.

Visit to explore for yourself!


The Mary A. Gowdey Library of House Histories

Gowdey was an enthusiastic Providence Preservation Society (PPS) volunteer from the organization’s founding in 1956 until her death in 1992. She played an important role in one of PPS’s earliest and most visible and influential programs, the awarding of markers to appropriately restored historic houses. Working closely with PPS founder Antoinette F. Downing, she researched the history of those restored houses to determine their original owners and dates of construction. The information that Gowdey gathered formed the basis for the information that appears on the markers that were awarded during the first 20 years of the program. The methodology for research into house histories was in its infancy during the time that PPS and Gowdey began this program; many of the resources available to those performing similar tasks today were then still undiscovered, stored in unknown and inaccessible places in Providence City Hall. Documents compiled in those earlier years have limitations: focus on original owners and date of construction, with less concern for subsequent history of and changes to the property, and limited original sources from which to gain information. As increasing numbers and varieties of municipal documents have become available and as research methodology has become more refined, PPS house histories through the years have become more thorough in both scope and detail. Like any research document, each is a product of its time and place. Awareness of what each and every one of these documents represent in terms of scholarship should help those using them to understand how very valuable and important they are and why PPS chooses to make them widely accessible.


Providence’s Recent Past

The Providence Preservation Society oversaw a partial survey of “recent past” buildings and sites in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2010. This Story Map provides the information collected in that survey, for informational purposes only. The Providence Preservation Society cannot verify that the information has not changed since originally captured in 2010. The original survey sheets are on file at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, located at 150 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island. This activity has been financed in part with a Certified Local Government grant from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, administered by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. To suggest changes, please contact the Providence Preservation Society.


Industrial and Commercial Buildings Survey

A hard copy of this survey is available at the PPS office at 24 Meeting Street. Please call or email to set up an appointment. ONLINE DATABASE COMING SOON


Providence City Tax Assessor Database


RI Historic Property Search

  • Search for any Rhode Island properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Other Resources

Providence City Archives, City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903

Rhode Island Historical Society Library, 121 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906

Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903


© 2020 Providence Preservation Society. All rights reserved.
Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.