If you were to ride by it today, the building shown in my featured postcard of the (old) City Hall, Central Falls, RI, would be very hard to recognize. Located at 26 Summit Street, this previous City Hall building has undergone “unsympathetic modifications and additions” since the picture taken as shown on the postcard.
After doing a street-view search, I compared the present day online picture to the one on the postcard. The only remaining feature, that I could notice, are the old-style posts located at the front entrance. The building shown next to it, in the postcard, seems no longer standing and in its place is a garage attached to this former City Hall.
At only one-square-mile, Central Falls, Rhode Island, is known for being the smallest and most densely populated City in the country and resides within the smallest state. In the early days of this City, extensive roots were planted from which their textile industry grew.
The Village of Central Falls was named in 1824 during a celebration being held at that time to dedicate a mill and a bridge. This village area is located along the Blackstone River which provided power for those early industries which included the first chocolate mill in the US. Central Falls saw great growth in the textile industry drawing immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and Canada.
Central Falls Village was governed as part of Smithfield until the town was divided in 1871, then the village became part of Lincoln. On March 18, 1895, the government of the City of Central Falls was finally organized.
My featured “One Postcard Saturdays” image is of what began as the Lincoln Town Hall, it was built in 1873 with expansion in 1890. The decision to locate Lincoln’s Town Hall on Summit Street in Central Falls was a reflection of the village’s civic and economic prominence. The town hall was built by Lincoln to house the offices of the newly founded town in 1873. Once Central Falls became established with its own government in 1895, the Summit Street building served as the Central Falls City Hall until 1928. During the years that followed, the building served as a city trade school and later as a furniture store.
According to a report filed by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, in 1978, the structure of this building has historical significance. The report explained, “it is a wooden structure, two-and-a-half-story, gable-end, with classical details including quoined corners (projected wood blocks defining the building corners), a modillion (ornate bracket) cornice and paired, pedimented windows over the entrance”.
After viewing such a drastic change as seen in the present day image of this building, online, and then comparing it to some of those structural details from the report above, I find myself realizing the significance of actually having this particular postcard image.
Postcard Sender, Message and Receiver
The postcard itself was postmarked in 1909, from Providence, RI and was sent to Miss Bertha James (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, RI. It was written in pencil and is a little hard to read.
I have not been able to quite make out the name of the sender, but it looks like the first two letters are Ga.. The sender appears to likely be a boyfriend to Gra Gra, she would have been 18 yrs old at the time. I think it would have been another year, or so, later before she met Pop Pop.
The handwritten message on the postcard reads:
Dear Bertha, I found a few minutes during working hours to write you a few lines. Hope you are well and got home all right Sunday evening. Answer don’t forget. Yours with love, Ga…
This postcard was printed in Germany and was published by the A. C. Bosselman & Co., of New York, NY.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the Central Falls Village, you might read further by accessing the resources, I used, as listed below.
Until next time…
City of Central Falls; centralfallsri.gov; Accessed 15 January 2022.
Statewide Historical Preservation Report by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, January 1978; preservation.ri.gov; Accessed 15 January 2022.