Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House


Latest Development: The Dirt Palace purchased this house for redevelopment into an artist-in-residence location and to run programming from. Ongoing information on their new blog for the project:

(Previously…) I lost track of what is happening to this house… but some friends alerted me to this Kickstarter campaign that seems like a bad way to start a for-profit hospitality business.

From CommunityWorksRI’s Website

Community Works Rhode Island (CWRI) announced the acquisition of the architecturally significant building at 514 Broadway in Providence, RI. CWRI will renovate this neglected and foreclosed property into five condominium units that will be set at a price that is affordable to income qualified buyers.

Carrie Marsh, Executive Director of CWRI said “CWRI is thrilled with the opportunity to acquire 514 Broadway, a significant property which retains its beauty, dignity and grace despite decades of neglect. It is a building that captures the interest of many people who wonder at its past and envision its potential. The federal, state and city funding allocated to this project will allow CWRI to save this foreclosed property and renovate it into bright, beautiful and energy-efficient living spaces, to be sold to homeowners at an affordable level. This project is a key piece of the ongoing transformation of Broadway as a vital main street of the West Side neighborhood.”

The property at 514 Broadway will be redeveloped with five affordable condominium units – two will be one bedroom units, two will be two bedroom units, and one will be three bedrooms in size. The construction is expected to be completed in June 2012. The property at 514 Broadway is on a busy business corridor with major bus routes. Neighborhood amenities, schools, social services and downtown Providence and Olneyville are within walking distance.


From, for the 10 Most Endangered Properties List

Built in a very elaborate Italianate Style, this house is often referred to as the “Wedding Cake House” as it is Providence’s consummate “gingerbread” house. The Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House was probably built and designed in 1867 by Broadway resident Perez Mason. Built for John Kendrick, a manufacturer of loom harnesses, important to 19th-century textile production, it became the home of buttonhook manufacturer and street-railway tycoon George W. Prentice in the early 1880s. The dress-designing and –making Tirocchi sisters lived here for much of the 20th-century and are the homes most significant occupants.

Anna Tirocchi and Laura Tirocchi Cella operated A. & L. Tirocchi, as dress making shop, in 514 Broadway from 1915 to 1947, catering to wealthy clients, many of whom were wives and daughters of the newly successful industrialists from Providence and Fall River. Their first shop was located in the Butler Exchange Building on Westminster Street from 1911 to 1915. In 1915, Laura married and Anna purchased the house on Broadway, at which time they had already developed their wealthy clientele.

The shop and its owners bridged three socio-cultural groups: their employees (from southern Italy), themselves (from near Rome), and their powerful and wealthy clients. The shop was located on the second and third floors of the house. The third floor served as the workshop where the “girls,” as they were called, fabricated, decorated, beaded, altered, and tailored the clothing to the desires of the clientele. The house also served as the office of Laura’s husband, Dr. Louis J. Cella, an American-born physician.

A. & L. Tirocchi employed women from thriving Italian American families. For these young women, the sewing rooms were “safe areas” where women were sheltered from exploitation and bad behavior and were under the supervision of two female members of their own community.

When Anna Tirocchi died in 1947, Laura Tirocchi Cella wrapped all the shop’s records in tissue paper and carefully put them away. These were not disturbed until 1989 when curators from the RISD Museum were invited by Laura’s son, Dr. Louis J. Cella Jr., inheritor of the house, to make their choice of objects for the Museum. When curators entered the house, it was a time capsule from the 1920s and 1930s, as everything from the shop’s operation lay untouched for over 40 years. Eighteen cubic feet of archival materials were inventoried and acquired by RISD, and two thousand additional objects were given to the University of Rhode Island. Such complete documentation of an historical dressmaking business exists nowhere else in the United States. The Tirocchi collection is an unparalleled resource for understanding many wide-ranging historical issues, including Italian immigration, women as workers and consumers, and the transition from hand production of garments to ready-to-wear clothing.

More Information:

A website compilation of the materials presented in the RISD Museum’s show From Paris to Providence: Fashion, Art, and The Tirocchi Dressmakers Shop, 1915-1947

Kathleen Tucker Pavlakis Feb 23 2017 My Irish and french grandparents worked there, as seamstresses and cleaners... my mother, now passed way, told me a doctor lived there and she worked for him as well when she was a teenager. as well. She liked him very much.

Annette Angeli Nov 8 2016 Dr. Louis Cella was the brother of my grandmother, Luisa Chiellini. I remember visiting De. Cella, as a child, at his home office. I remember how beautiful the house was and hope it will be saved and renovated.

Daniel Sep 5 2016 Long time fan of this home. Anyone know what it’s up to these days?

Lori Lovett Mar 8 2015 My husband and I had the pleasure of living in one of this estate’s adjoining properties for ten years. Beatrice Cella was our landlord until her passing, when her brother, Louis took over. We had many fond memories on Tobey Street. Beatrice was a shy and reclusive woman. We saw the interior of that home when the estate auction happened after her passing. Treasures were sold on that day. RISD also benefited from the treasures there. A moment frozen in time.

Andrea Tirocchi Jul 23 2014 The Tirocchi sisters are my great, great, great, aunts on my grandfathers side of the family, Angelo Tirocchi. My sister and I have always waned to tour the home, she and I are far from dress makers! But both are skilled in fine arts my grandmother however, Filomena Tirocchi is a seamstress by trade and continues to work out of her home. I am interested in seeing any other photos you have of our family's home. Thank you for your time.

Elsie Collins Mar 31 2013 My grandparents lived on Federal Hill, and i’ve always love this house!! I am a dressmaker and milliner, and have often dreamed of having my studio in this building, bringing back the art of dressmaking to it!! If anyone has any information on the avaialability of space in it please email me.

lisa Feb 28 2012 I grew up in providence:) this house was and still is my favorite. It is gorgeous! How can I get information about possibly living there? (ED – follow the links to CommunityWorksRI and their website.)

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

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