Fruit Hill School: Help me Tell this Story

Photo from PPS Website

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 in the comments below, and 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, 129 Manton Ave.

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)
What do you know? Share with us below or 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 Pic

    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:

4 comments for “Fruit Hill School: Help me Tell this Story

  1. Susan Asselin
    April 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    There was a group organized to save the school before it was demolished and they had several classroom photos from the late 50s/early 60s on their Web page. It was because of their efforts part of the stone wall was preserved.

      April 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      So interesting Susan! Where is that stone wall now? Certainly not worked into the Family Dollar store?!

  2. Susan Asselin
    April 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    The stone wall surrounds the front of the parking area. The part on the corner is original.

  3. Ted Donnelly
    April 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    If memory serves me right, there was a developer in my time at RIC (1988-1993) who was interested in making that property & the original school building itself a residential use building with something like 6-10 residential units (this was prior to Super Stop & Shop, CVS & Wendy’s on the other close properties. For some reason, I connect the property at 789 Atwells (corner of Academy & Atwells) with that property in my mind, so maybe same developer at the time?

Comments are closed.