Ideas anybody? Having made its debut 20 years ago, and clearly not painted since, the Esek Hopkins House at 97 Admiral Street is once again on the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Property List.
Location, location, location: The 7-acre homestead is situated in a no-man’s land across Route 146 sort of behind the main post office. It is not on anyone’s way to anywhere. (His brother, governor and Declaration signer Stephen, had the good sense to build on Benefit Street.) And let’s face it, Hopkins’s time as Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy was . . . complicated. He never was one of the A-listers. And yet his historical significance is a big part of the problem for the property.
In 1908 the Hopkins family transferred ownership of his 1756 home and its furnishings to the City of Providence under the condition that the property would be maintained as a public park. Used for any other purpose, the property would return to the Hopkins heirs. Since that time the City’s Parks Department has faced the challenge of maintaining this highly significant house with very limited funds.
That was certainly a generous gesture at the time, but now what.