Neighborhood of the Week: All the right ingredients in Rumford/Wannamoisett
By Christine Dunn , Journal Staff Writer
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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Since it was reopened in 2008, Rumford Center, also known as the former Rumford Chemical Works, has been the place to meet in the Wannamoisett section of Rumford.
Ten historic industrial buildings are now the home of 113 loft apartments, a number of offices and two popular eateries, the Avenue N restaurant and a Seven Stars Bakery.
This neighborhood, west of Route 1A, also includes the Wannamoisett Country Club, a 105-acre golf and country club established in 1898.
Rumford Chemical Works, where chemist Eben Horsford formulated and, in 1865, patented Rumford Baking Powder, was established earlier, in 1853. The company's chief executive, George F. Wilson, had acquired about 1,200 acres in Rumford, including what today is the country club property. Once a leading global producer of baking powder, the Rumford mill closed in 1968.
The 8.3-acre Rumford Chemical site was purchased in 2006 for $3.8 million by PK Rumford LLC, a joint venture between Peregrine Holdings and Kirkbrae Development. State historic rehabilitation tax credits helped to finance the $42-million project.
Colin Kane, of the Peregrine Group, credits the owners of Avenue N and Seven Stars for "activating" Rumford Center and being "the heartbeat of the place." The Peregrine Group has its offices in Rumford Center, and Kane said the neighborhood is "an open and friendly place" with "the nicest neighbors in the world."
Historic Rumford is separated from Providence's East Side by the Seekonk River. The area was first settled in 1643 by 58 Puritans from Weymouth, Mass., led by the Rev. Samuel Newman. They established the Ring of the Green, an early town common, meeting house and burial ground. The Ring of the Green was created from 64 square miles purchased from the Indian chief Massassoit. The area included portions of what today are Greenwood and Pawtucket avenues, and Pleasant Street.
But the development of Rumford as a residential suburb did not get into gear until after the Great Depression, according to a report on East Providence by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. "Prior to the 1930s much of it had remained open, despite the surveying of numerous subdivisions," the report said. "The gently rolling land, the presence of two country clubs, and the filling out of Providence's East Side by the 1920s made Rumford appealing for the middle class of both Providence and Pawtucket. Some of the new houses were larger and more costly than most erected in East Providence up until that time. Still, most of these dwellings remained the products of builders rather than architects."
Today, Wannamoisett has some of the city's priciest real estate. Much of the housing in the Wannamoisett neighborhood is single-family houses built in the 1930s and 1940s, on lots of about 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. For instance, a colonial built in 1941 at 11 Bent Road is on the market for $549,000, while another 1941 colonial, at 111 Don Ave., has an asking price of $425,000. A ranch built in 1951 at 45 Bent Road is listed for $295,000.
At a glance
Population: (East Providence, 2010) 47,037
Median house price: (East Providence, 2015) $185,000