Volunteers rehab second Fiske House apartment

After weeks of work, Preservation Society volunteers have finished renovations in a second apartment at the historic Dr. Isaac Fiske House.

From March to April 2019, members tore up old carpet and linoleum, painted walls and ceilings, and added new appliances to the unit.

The apartment’s original windows were also removed, cleaned, repaired, and reinstalled — making them usable for the first time in years as well.

Multiple layers of paint were removed from the living room fireplace, uncovering the it’s wooden details for the first time in years.

Contractors built a new kitchen counter, added a new sink, re-glazed the bathroom sink and tub, and finished the hardwood floors.

Proposed Downtown Billboard Tabled For Now

The City Council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Affairs tabled the Correia Administration’s proposal to lease city land for the construction of a digital billboard on South Main and Market streets at its April 6 meeting.

The Preservation Society sent a position statement opposing the proposed downtown billboard to the City Council ahead of the meeting and a member of the Board of Directors attended the meeting to voice the PSFR’s concerns.

The Correia Administration is currently appealing the state’s decision to reject two other proposed billboard locations — one on Water Department property along Route 24 near the historic pumping station and another on Brayton Avenue near the I-195 ramp.

PS: Proposed Downtown Digital Billboard

April 2, 2019 – From great fires to the construction of Interstate-195, Fall River’s historic downtown has endured many injuries over the years.

Unfortunately, the administration’s proposal to construct a digital billboard in front of Government Center at South Main and Market Streets will only continue the damage done to the historic character of Fall River’s core as well as work against ongoing city efforts to revitalize the area.

The proposed billboard’s location is at a nexus of the Downtown, Lower Highlands, and Corky Row National Register Historic Districts and would be a significant detriment to the Fall River viewscape for eastbound travelers who currently get an unparalleled panoramic view of the city when coming over the Braga Bridge.

With details of the billboard’s height and width unclear as well as a lack of renderings, there’s no way to tell what visual impact the billboard would have on the numerous downtown properties on the National Register of Historic Places like the Academy Building.

Furthermore, the proposed billboard directly conflicts with the city’s new Downtown Urban Renewal Plan, where ‘billboard’ is not mentioned once in the plan’s entirety.

We at the Preservation Society believe that if the administration truly wished to generate additional revenue or make Fall River a tourist destination, it would focus on smart urban planning that develops the “spine” of North and South Main Streets as outlined in the Downtown Urban Renewal Plan.

Fall River’s historic resources can help spur economic development and create walkable neighborhoods, but only if they’re protected and only if they can be seen.

The Preservation Society of Fall River Board of Directors

Fiske House opened to members

Fiske Open House - 1

After months of work by volunteers at the Dr. Isaac Fiske House on Pine Street, the Board of Directors gave Preservation Society members a sneak peak at the impact their support is making at the organization’s recently acquired historic property.

The Preservation Society hosted an open house for members at the Fiske House, which included a tour of a nearly completed renovated apartment — the second to be worked on by volunteers.

The open house also included a small reception in the Preservation Society’s new basement office (still under construction), which was formerly Dr. Isaac Fiske’s very own office too!

Bedford Street Police Station Column Will Be Replaced

The column destroyed in an accident at the front entrance of the Old Central Police Station at 158 Bedford Street will be replaced.

After an initial contradicting report from the Mayor’s Office, the reversal was brought to the attention of the Historical Commission ahead of its Feb. 19 meeting. Fall River Director of Buildings/Facilities Chris Gallagher reported to Historical Commission Chairman Kristen Cantara Oliveira that the city was currently in the process of having a replacement column made at Smithfield, Rhode Island, company Granites of America.

[For Bedford Street Police Station, skip to 0:45:18]

The 6,400-pound column at the front of the historic police station was damaged in a motor vehicle accident in October 2018. The front overhang of the police station is currently being supported by a piece of wood, as the building remains fenced off.

Gallagher said the column could not be repaired because the base and decorative edges were crushed to “dust” in addition to the length being broken into three pieces.


The Preservation Society appeared at the Oct. 26, 2018, Historical Commission meeting to request that the city collect insurance money from the accident to repair or replace the destroyed column to prevent the damage from harming any future redevelopment opportunities.

At the Nov. 20, 2018, Historical Commission meeting, Historical Commission member Maria Connie Soule said that after speaking with Mayor Jasiel Correia’s Chief of Staff, Gen Andrade, the city would collect the insurance money from the accident, but that the column would not be replaced because of plans to demolish the building.

Fixing up the Fiske House

After purchasing the Dr. Isaac Fiske House in September 2018, the Preservation Society’s Board of Directors soon got to work fixing up its first historic property.

Volunteers first focused their efforts on the first floor apartment at the rear of the house, which was vacant at the time of the sale. This unit is actually an addition that was added on to the back of the original house at an unknown date.

In their spare time over the course of weeks, volunteers cleaned and repainted the entire apartment — walls, ceilings, cabinets, doors, and more. Among many other repairs and improvements, the bathroom sink’s faucet was replaced and contractors came in to sand and coat the original hardwood floors.

Unfortunately, one of the original windows in this unit is damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced in the future.

Some interesting historic features of the unit include: a servants phone, a wooden ironing board built into the wall, and the original hardwood floors, of course!

After all the finishing touches are completed, a new tenant will move in to be a part of the next chapter for this historic house.

The Demolition of Immaculate Conception Church

The demolition of Immaculate Conception Church on Thomas Street began on Feb. 4, 2019, and only took a few days to complete. Over its course, people paused on the street and sidewalk for one last look or photo or video of the Flint neighborhood icon as it came down piece by piece.

The Diocese of Fall River first signaled intent to demolish the church and it’s accompanying rectory in a letter to the Fall River Historical Commission in June 2018. Local developer Thomas St. Pierre filed the paperwork for the demolition after acquiring the property, triggering the Historical Commission’s six-month demolition delay bylaw.

St. Pierre didn’t respond to the Historical Commission’s requests to appear at a meeting to discuss possible reuse of the buildings and demolition began after the six-month delay’s expiration. Fourteen single-family homes will be built in its place.

The Preservation Society of Fall River released a position statement restating public opposition to the demolition on Feb. 4, 2019.

“No words to describe the sadness that I am feeling right now as I am standing here watching this demolition.”

– Carlos Cesar, Flint Neighborhood Association President

Feb. 4, 2019

Herald News Photos: Scenes from the first day of demolition at Immaculate Conception

Herald News Photos: Here is the church, there goes the steeple

Do you have any photos or videos of Immaculate Conception Church or its demolition? If so, please send them to us at psfallriver@gmail.com so that we can preserve this piece of Fall River history and ensure it’s not forgotten.

PS: Immaculate Conception Church Demolition

Demolition of the Immaculate Conception Church at 15 Thomas Street has
begun and the building standing since 1927 will fall.

In the Feb. 3 Herald News article detailing the property’s transformation into 14 single-family homes, the project’s developer, Thomas St. Pierre, alleged that news of the church’s impending demolition was met with minimal pushback from preservationists.

The Preservation Society of Fall River typically treads lightly on privately owned projects and developments, but the city’s Historical Commission did indeed provide objection to the demolition of the Immaculate Conception Church.

Although neither the Preservation Society or the Historical Commission have the power to stop a demolition, the Commission does review demolition permits and it did initiate its only tool to protect historic buildings – the city’s six-month demolition delay ordinance for significant properties.

Unfortunately, multiple invitations to Mr. St. Pierre for him to appear before the Commission went unanswered, denying neighborhood residents, former church patrons, and any preservationists the opportunity to voice resistance to the demolition.

Despite what many developers say, almost all historical properties can be redeveloped and even old churches can find new uses.

We also believe that if Fall River had an administration that truly supported preservation, greater efforts would be made with developers to encourage and promote historic preservation.

Fall River can do better than this and we should do better than this. If we ever want to be a better, more desirable place to live, then someday we must expect better development from our property owners and greater support from our political leaders.

The Preservation Society of Fall River Board of Directors

Reception Opens “Seven Old Stories of Seven Old Homes” Exhibit

We had a great turnout at the opening reception of our “Seven Old Stories of Seven Old Homes” research exhibit last night at the Greater Fall River Art Association!

Countless hours of research by scholar in residence Kenneth Champlin on seven historic properties throughout Fall River were presented to guests (as well as a few surprise exhibit pieces 💀).

The exhibit will be on display at the Greater Fall River Art Association at 80 Belmont Street throughout the month of February.

February Exhibit Hours
Fridays: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The full research will be available on the Preservation Society of Fall River’s official website after the exhibit.

This project is sponsored in part by Mass Humanities and is a collaboration
with the Greater Fall River Art Association (GFRAA).

“Seven Old Stories of Seven Old Homes” visit the GFRAA

A stop on the Underground Railroad, a Skeleton in Armor, a serving of deadly ice cream and more are explored in the Preservation Society of Fall River’s upcoming exhibit “Seven Old Stories of Seven Old Homes.”

Based on research conducted for the Preservation Society by scholar in
residence Kenneth Champlin, the past of seven historic homes from different neighborhoods across Fall River is revealed through simple stories about regular folk that are weaved together with unique local history.

“The historic house project is born of an effort to tell the stories of homes in
every section of Fall River,” Preservation Society President Jim Soule said.
“Some of the homes are readily recognized, some of the stories are oft-told,
but can you match the stories to the homes they are related to?”

The research exhibit will be on display at the Greater Fall River Art
at 80 Belmont Street throughout the whole month of February
with an opening reception on Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.

This project is sponsored in part by Mass Humanities and is a collaboration
with the Greater Fall River Art Association (GFRAA).

“Fall River’s historic homes are an important part of our local culture,” said
GFRAA President John Casey. “The Greater Fall River Art Association is proud to work with the Preservation Society, and our house at 80 Belmont Street is open to all.”

The exhibit will include photos and highlighted excerpts. The full research will be available on the Preservation Society’s website at: http://www.psfallriver.org.