The 1810 Corliss-Carrington House in Providence is Here to Stay
The East Side home has been a gathering space for more than two centuries and owner Lorne Adrain wants to continue that mission.
Some of Rhode Island’s most prominent merchants and families have called the stately Corliss-Carrington House, on Providence’s East Side, home.
“For over 200 years, people have gathered and shared ideas for a better future here,” says owner Lorne Adrain, who’s trying to further that legacy by turning it into a hub for local community groups, his Global Fellows in Courage initiative — a nonprofit supporting the work of human rights leaders — and a venue for private events like weddings and family celebrations.
The businessman and former mayoral candidate bought the twenty-five-room brick structure in December 2019; six weeks later, the pandemic hit and paused his — and most of the world’s — plans.
The National Historic Landmark features 11,790 square feet of space. Shipping merchant John Corliss started building the home in 1810 but abandoned it after running out of money; fellow mer- chant Edward Carrington purchased it in 1812 after serving as American consul in China. He added a third floor and porch and wrapped one room in Chinese wallpaper festooned with peacocks, a bird later adopted as his family crest.
In 1936, the Carrington family gave the home to the Rhode Island School of Design, which in turn sold it to the Washington Irving family (descendants of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving) in 1961. Thirty-four years later, former Providence Journal publisher Stephen Hamblett purchased it as a birthday gift for his wife, Jocelin.
That’s when Adrain first eyed the grand home. For twenty years, he lived just a few blocks away on Arnold Street. In fact, you can see his previous home from the third floor of his new one.
“I always looked and wondered, ‘What the heck is that?’” he says. “It was just so beautiful.”
After a long two years, Adrain — who lives in the home with his fiancee Victoria, daughter Annabelle and two-year-old pandemic puppy, Bei Bei — is starting to see an uptick in rentals. (The revenue from room and space rentals supports the community mission of the property.) A spacious barn — two swings hang from the rafters and twinkling lights add a touch of whimsy — carriage house and out- door grounds are available for celebrations, anniversaries, filming projects, meetings and other events, while third-floor rooms are available via Airbnb. (One of the stars of HBO’s “The Gilded Age” recently rented the space while in town filming.)
Groups from the Providence Preservation Society, College Unbound, Preserve Rhode Island and RISD have all held meetings in the space. In June, the home will host its first wedding. They work with event and catering companies like Kaitlyn Alyece Event Architects and Bites by Bre.
Audrain wants to share the property with community members, including the first class of fellows from his human rights program. “I feel like a steward of this property for just a little while,” he says.
The Corliss-Carrington House, 66 Williams St., Providence, corlisscarrington.com