New Englanders of a certain age are sure to remember Cherry & Webb, the department store founded in 1888 that at one point had over 50 stores. Why the retail history lesson? This Freeman Parkway home was built in 1930 by the chain’s founder for his daughter, Anna Darling Cherry, and her new husband Frederick Hallworth. “Anna and Frederick divorced a few years later and she remarried a realtor named G. Mason Gross who moved into the home,” explains Lyn Herr, who today owns the home with her husband Patrick Morgan.
Herr and Morgan, both from Texas, had been living in Hamburg, Germany when Morgan’s job required them to pack up and move to either Boston or Providence. The pair spent their first week diligently looking at homes in the Boston suburbs. “We really liked the area, but struggled to find a place that felt like home to us,” says Herr. That first weekend they decided to take a break from house hunting and make a quick trip to Providence, having heard it was a beautiful city with great restaurants. “As soon as we arrived and drove through the East Side, we knew we had found a place we could call home.”
With the location set, the couple next agreed that this new home must be move-in ready, having undergone lengthy renovations in the past. However, they were quickly smitten with the Cherry Hallworth Home, a Tudor Revival which boasted architectural features such as period tile, grand staircase, limestone fireplaces, crown molding, butler’s pantry, oversized bay windows, and stunning millwork. Their realtor, Jim DeRentis with Residential Properties, was critical in helping them see the potential. “It had an open and modern feel that is unique for an older home,” starts Herr. “With some updating we knew the home would be the perfect balance of modern and traditional. The space was there – we just needed to open it up in a few places and tweak the layout.” And with that, the promise was broken and the pair embarked on their largest renovation project to date.
Herr and Morgan turned to Paul Vespia of Hill & Harbor Design + Build, who specializes in historic homes. “The quality of the craftsmanship is remarkable and speaks to the skilled artisanship in Rhode Island of this time period,” Vespia starts. “There is a handmade plaster frieze/crown molding with carved images of birds eating fruit in the two-level foyer. The woodwork throughout the house was impeccably installed. The walls are thick and the house is sturdy, built similarly to a schoolhouse. I think these qualities are hard to find outside of Rhode Island.”