For decades until a year or two ago, Stan Weiss’s antiques collection graced the graceful, gilded the lily so to speak, by residing in downtown’s Tilden-Thurber Building. Then he sold Tilden-Thurber to former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino Jr. Weiss also sold his mansion, Halsey House on Prospect Street, to Paolino. (This much I recounted in my book Lost Providence.) In return he got lots of money, of course, but also a building on Fourth Street, off Hope, where he now houses the famous Stanley Weiss Collection, plus a modernist domicile on Pratt Street, where he now houses himself and his delightful wife, Beth. On Tuesday, near the conclusion of its renovation, he invited me over to take a peek.
Originally a mid-’50s ranch moved from higher up on College Hill, the house on Pratt – after or rather because of a ’70s era renovation – was as bad looking as the circa ’00 modernist box designed next door by architect Friedrich St. Florian for a client. Pratt Street is College Hill’s sandbox for the modernists. Indeed, Weiss hired St. Florian to help redesign the house.
And the result? Well, the result probably belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records. In no house on Earth, I would venture to assert, does the outside express more profound disagreement with the inside. To approach the sullen exterior from Pratt in no way prepares a visitor for the classical heaven inside the front portal. Knowing Stan and Beth for years, I was not entirely unprepared, but was totally astonished nonetheless. So imagine the surprise, nay the joyful sense of relief, that will greet a pizza delivery man!! Or, on some other evening, one of Weiss’s colleagues in the art of selling fine antiques. Who can even begin to imagine what Joe Paolino might think.
Pictured above is that approach on Pratt. Below, shots of the interior are followed by shots of the exterior, including, finally, the view from Benefit Street below.