The Telephone Building — built in 1893 designed by famed Rhode Island architects Stone, Carpenter & Wilson — is located at 112 Union Street in the heart of Downtown Providence, nestled between Westminster and Washington Street, and originally home to The Providence Telephone Company.
The Providence Telephone Company was organized and incorporated in 1880 under the leadership of former Rhode Island Governor Henry Howard, who served as president until 1892.
That same year, the City of Providence granted the company a franchise for an underground conduit system. The subsequent rapid increase in telephone subscribers necessitated new switchboard facilities. The company applied for an “Intention-to-Build” permit on June 28, 1892. Upon approval, construction began. It was completed in 1893, resulting in what is now The Telephone Building at 112 Union Street.
Originally, the three-story building held a telephone station in the lobby, with booths fitted for both long-distance and local use, offices on the second floor for company directors, and operator rooms on the third. The company continued to grow, and in 1906, expanded their current home on Union Street vertically, from three floors to five.
Within 10 years, the company was ready to expand yet again. It had outgrown its current home, and in 1917, moved to a new building, located at 234 Washington Street. The building still stands today, across from the Providence Public Library, which is a short walk down Washington Street from Union Street, in the direction of Trinity Repertory.
Focussing on the exterior, its facade is almost entirely comprised of limestone on the first floor, while the upper facade is comprised of sandstone brick and terracotta. Beautiful polished granite Ionic columns punctuate the main entrance, with traditional Corinthian orders on side entries. The cornices above each level are decorated with fine stone moldings, brackets, and dentils below each of the cornices, complimented by intricate friezes, and wonderfully crafted masonry.
Though comfortable and contemporary, interior spaces still retain appealing historic elements, including large, open living areas, oversized windows, crown molding, and foyers with mosaic tile. Skylights brighten both first and fifth floors.
The main lobby, which provides access to residential loft and apartment units within the building, greets visitors with a recently-restored large center staircase, featuring decorative iron railings. The lobby also features beautiful marble floors, soaring ceilings, oversized windows and moulding, large columns, and fully-restored wood paneling.