House Lust: In the Heart of the East Side, a Fairy Tale Villa Stands the Test of Time

The William and Clara Bridgham estate in Providence is on the market.

Despite what you might’ve heard, real magic doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s honed by generations of men and women — and, most importantly, by time — before it reaches its true potency. The William and Clara Bridgham estate, at the corner of Blackstone Boulevard and Rochambeau Avenue in Providence, is proof of this.

Long before today, it served as farmland. But change was already in motion and, in 1899, the owners conveyed the tract to their real estate holding corporation. After minimal interest over sixteen years, they sold more than three acres to William and Clara Bridgham, an artist couple with ties to the Rhode Island School of Design.

The house itself, a 9,200-square-foot Mediterranean-style stucco villa, was built by local architect Eleazer B. Homer. His design is regal and dramatic and a touch extrinsic. The grounds — rumored, as Barry Fain writes in East Side Monthly, to have warranted a staff of seventeen gardeners — are also enchanting. A grove of pines looms over a winding drive, which leads to a vast estate with tiered gardens, vine-covered passageways, statuary, a European potting shed and numerous ornamental and edible plantings, including a grape arbor. A tall stone wall, with a dated inscription of 1849, surrounds the property.

In the 1960s, the property sold to the Granoff family. The renowned local art philanthropists served as careful stewards for decades but, in 2014, they sought approval to subdivide the estate into twelve total house lots. Outcry ensued and neighbors organized, hiring a lawyer to represent their interests before the Providence City Plan Commission. The Granoffs’ proposal did not pass — the commission was split — and in 2015 the family sold the property, divided into two parcels of 2.65 acres and .75 acres, to a cognitive scientist for $4 million.

Now, it’s back on the market. Here’s your House Lust:

For more information on 460 Rochambeau Avenue in Providence, contact Mott and Chace Sotheby’s Heidi Farmer at 401-481-1977 or Ben Scungio at 401-413-5753 or visit mottandchace.com.