Chris Healy

The Providence East Side

College Hill Neighborhood on the East Side

College Hill Neighborhood

College Hill is one of six neighborhoods comprising the East Side of Providence. It is home to Brown University and Rhode Island School Of Design (RISD) which make important contributions to the social, cultural and commercial success of this area.

One of the more affluent neighborhoods in Providence, College Hill has a median family income of nearly three times that of the city as a whole.

College Hill was the site of the first permanent colonial settlement in Rhode Island. The year was 1636 when Roger Williams built the first home here. College Hill still proudly contains one of the America's most extensive and distinguished collections of historic architecture. Located on a steep hill going up from the east bank of the Providence River, the area has always been primarily residential in nature. In fact, Benefit Street, Providence's own "Mile of History," was established in 1756 and became home to many wealthy Providence businessmen. Providence's early commercial success was in the shipping trade. Schooners were docked at the Providence River wharfs at the foot of College Hill. Later Providence became one of the first American cities to industrialize, starting the Industrial Revolution.

The western edge of the neighborhood, along the Providence River and along North and South Main streets, while having been in use for hundreds of years, has recently been revived as a vital commercial corridor and is home to Waterfire, the renowned art installation that lights up the river. The foot of College Hill also provides an important residential to commercial transition point where the neighborhood meets downtown Providence. This area is home to many of the City's finest restaurants, with some located right on the river. The Thayer Street retail area caters to Brown University students and other young adults. The Brown Book Store and Avon Cinema are found on Thayer Street.

College Hill has been designated as one of the Great Places in America by the American Planning Association in 2011. College Hill became an example of Historic Preservation planning in 1959 when there was a rediscovery and renewed appreciation for College Hill's rare collection of historic houses along Benefit Street. Many of these historic homes had fallen into disrepair and some were targeted for demolition by the city's proposed urban renewal project. Due largely to the efforts of Antoinette Downing and the Providence Preservation Society, these plans were altered and the area became one of the first urban renewal projects in the country to embrace rehabilitation rather than resorting to demolition and redevelopment. Today, nearly all of the buildings on or near historic Benefit Street have been renovated and the area is home to one of the finest cohesive collections of restored 18th and early 19th century architecture in the United States. Here you'll see the neighborhood and homes much as they appeared two hundred years ago.

Map of the College Hill Neighborhood

College Hill Neighborhood Links:

Brown University

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Avon Cinema

RISD Museum

Providence Athenaeum Library

The Historic First Baptist Church In America

First Unitarian Church

Providence Art Club

The Old Court Bed & Breakfast

Mill's Tavern Restaurant

Hemenway's Restaurant

New Rivers Restaurant

Whole Foods Market

College Hill Neighborhood Profile

Providence Preservation Society

Providence Historic Plaque Homes

Some thoughts on Providence's Old-Houses and Historic Neighborhoods

Do you want to live in a charming older home in one of Providence's historic East Side neighborhoods?

Contact Chris, the "Old-House Expert".
Chris will help you make it happen.