Pawtuxet's Historic Fair House... State Fair Exhibit Hall, to a School, to a House for the Homeless.
The Fair House is a 2 1/2 story historic "Greek Revival Building" located at 69 Fair Street in Pawtuxet Village. It was originally built in 1820 by the Budlong family who were members of the Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry.
The Society brought the State Fair to Pawtuxet and would use the Fair House to display the exhibits of those who were participating in the fair. The Fair grounds were used for different activities to attract people of all ages, prizes were given out, and prominent speakers would also come to the grounds to give the Society's message.
After the State Fair continued to grow in size, it eventually moved to Narragansett park. Former Governor and Senator, John Brown Francis -who served as Treasurer for the Society- championed that a portion of the Fair Grounds be used for educational purposes and eventually, a portion of the fair grounds became a public meeting place and a school.
The Fair House eventually went on to serve a few other organizations before it ultimately became vacant.
The Fair House --4100 sf sitting on a 35,660 sf lot--was purchased by the House of Hope back in 2012 for $125,000.
Former HOH Director, Jean Johnson (got a $240K back tax write-off break from her friend the Mayor), went before the City Planning Dept. for a zoning change to have the property developed into 10 affordable housing units.. 5 at the existing historic house and another 5 units built as an addition.
The property just next door at 57 Fair Street is also owned by HOH and offers affordable and supportive housing as well.
It would be interesting to know how many families in the surrounding historic Pawtuxet area knew about the ONE public outreach meeting and that these affordable housing changes to the residential area would be coming. Only three members of the public showed up to the one public outreach meeting.
After the zoning change, construction began in 2015 and the Fair House was renovated to accommodate 10 affordable housing units costing approximately $1.6 million including: $231K in historic tax credits, $350K in RI Housing funding, Federal Home Loan Funds and CDBG funding.
Is this the only way to get our beautiful historic properties restored in Warwick? What was once a thriving society that encouraged domestic industry has now become housing for the homeless.
What do the people of historic Pawtuxet Village think?
Will more families come.. or go?