ESSAY: How the Wedding Cake House, a Feminist Architectural Project, is Bigger on the Inside [PREVIEW]

As is the case with the some of the most enchanting experiences — be they books or buildings — Providence’s beautiful Victorian Wedding Cake House is “bigger on the inside.” The Wedding Cake House (previously known as the Tirocchi House) occupies the lot on 514 Broadway in Providence, Rhode Island. Its exterior is perfectly in keeping with the other elegant Victorian mansions lining this street; it is one of several architectural points of interest in the Broadway-Armory Historic District (established 1974).

Originally built in 1867 by architect Perez Mason, the home took on the names of its first inhabitants — manufacturer John Kendrick and railway magnate George. W. Prentice — before becoming, most famously, the home of Anna and Laura Tirocchi, two Italian-American immigrant sisters who operated a dressmaking business inside the building for several decades. After the sisters’ deaths, the house sat empty, deteriorating in the harsh New England weather as the remnants of their life’s work were carefully documented and preserved by the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island. After featuring prominently on the Providence Preservation Society’s “Most Endangered” list for several years, the Wedding Cake House is now undergoing a multi-year process of transformation — restoration, repair, and reinvention — that places it on the cultural map as a unique artistic and economic community project...

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