August 26th, 2011
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Our Cumberland office recently underwent a service upgrade for internet. In the process of this effort, we’ve discovered that the house (that is our office) was formerly the home of Ray Mullin, owner of Ray Mullin Music. His popular store was founded in 1929 and originally headquartered in Pawtucket next to the LeRoy Theater. In fact, there was a tunnel between the theater and the music store, so when big acts performed, they could sneak out through this passage. Sandy Soares got her first guitar (a Les Paul) from Ray Mullins and Debby Smith used to babysit his grandchildren. Today, both the Pawtucket store and the LeRoy Theater are gone; the Company has relocated to Swansea.

This got us thinking. Time works differently in Rhode Island. Instead of living by that clock thing hanging on the wall, nostalgia seems to be the dominant rhythm of life here. While new construction may change the terrain, the Rhode Island conscious is embedded in the past. Just ask a true Rhode Islander for directions. Instead of street names, they will most likely be given by landmark. And usually this landmark will be outdated, like where the old I-195 used to be. With this trait in mind, we’ve created a list of some famous Rhode Island Used-To-Be’s that are important to our culture.

If you live in the Ocean State and are over the age of 20, there’s a really good chance you have some childhood memory of Rocky Point Amusement Park. This Warwick Park, established in 1847, grew quickly in popularity, and from the 1850’s through the 1980’s it was the most popular attraction in New England. Tom Flanagan remembers spending Saturdays there, full of laughter and cotton candy. The park closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2007. The town of Warwick is currently looking to make the land into a public park.

Much like Rocky Point, Crescent Park in East Providence (named for the crescent shape of the Riverside beach) was renowned in its time. Founded in 1886 by George Boyden, the venue was known as the “Coney Island of the East”, with hot air balloons and extravagant carousels providing the Park’s main attractions. Tom Flanagan also remembers the delicious candy apples he enjoyed here (there is a theme here with Tom about amusement venues). The park closed in 1979, and the surrounding area was developed. The only remnant of these sweet roots is the Crescent Park Carousel, which remains open to this day.

South County, RI

Today, The Towers set the backdrop to the Narragansett social scene, but they once provided entrance to the Narragansett Pier Casino, another source of turn-of-the-century entertainment. The Casino was completed in 1886 and provided a refuge for the areas social elite, offering a variety of recreational opportunities, such as boating, tennis, billiards, bowling, cards, and shooting. The venue also had restaurants, stores, reading rooms, a theater, a bandstand, a ballroom, and a beautiful beach. While Residential Properties Ltd. has been around for a long time (this year is our 30th anniversery!), none of us were there to enjoy the pleasures of The Casino, since the building burned down in 1900. However, locals like Anita Langer cherish The Towers for uniting a community with their granite walls.

Our final used to be is much less romantic, but is a part of Rhode Island history none-the-less. In the 1980s, Providence was included in the Guinness Book of World Record for holding the distinction of World’s Widest Bridge. Known as the Crawford Street Bridge at 1,147 feet, the structure grew when several normal sized bridges were covered with decking and turned into a parking lot. Oh yeah, this monstrosity was located across the Providence River. Ed Hardy remembers thinking this bridge was gross in his youth. This monstrosity has since been dismantled; the river has been moved; Waterfire caldrons line the center of where the bridge was; and the whole transformation turned the area into an asthetically pleasing area. While this demolition was integral in developing our Capital Center, we just couldn’t let you erase this Used-To-Be from your memory. So, remember, you can get to the downtown area from the East Side by crossing over the river where the world’s widest bridge was.

Admittedly, we’ve left out numerous landmarks that could be used for directions, so you can expect another Used-To-Be compilation in the near future.

July 21st, 2011

The East Bay - Rhode Island

Like lobster rolls and PawSox games, long lines at the local ice cream stands are a sure sign summer has arrived in Rhode Island. At Residential Properties Ltd., we are invested in the communities we serve, and in honor of National Ice Cream Month, we thought we would compile a list of some of the best scoops in Rhode Island.

Ice Cream Machine Co. is the place to be if you’re in the northern Rhode Island area. The stand was started in 1977 by a retired corporate executive with multiple sclerosis. He began selling homemade ice cream out of a one-car garage and quickly gained the attention of locals. Today, the Ice Cream Machine Co. is a Cumberland staple. The stand is located across the street from Diamond Hill State Park and offers massive scoops in more than sixty flavors. Agent Cheryl Davis recommends the Cinnamon in the summer and the Pumpkin flavor in the fall.

Those in the Providence area love Three Sisters on the East Side. This Hope St. staple was formerly dubbed “Maximillians”—the new owner changed the name to pay homage to his daughters. The interior has a sophisticated feel, and the store boasts 100 flavors of ice cream,  ranging from traditional to exotic. If you plan on indulging a little, you may want to top off your scoop with a little “goop,” a gooey concoction of peanut butter, chocolate and caramel. In addition, the cafe offers frozen yogurt for more health conscious customers. Agent Lenore Leach recommends the Black Raspberry, while Agent Bethany Calitri loves their Strawberry flavor. She is also a fan of their Tropical Tide Smoothie.

Those in the East Bay will love the Daily Scoop on County Road in Barrington and Thames Street in Bristol. After sampling high-quality ice cream on boat vacations, the owners decided to open stands in their natural community. Eight years later, the atmosphere at both locations reflects these nautical beginnings. Their mission is to use only the freshest ingredients and toppings, including fruit, and their waffle cones and ice cream cakes are handmade. Agent Stephanie Nickerson recommends the Coffee ice cream, while Agent Bonnie Koppelman applauds the Coconut Almond.

Those in the West Bay flock to Hill-top Creamery on Post Road in East Greenwich. It’s their soft-serve that drives the locals crazy, but the venue also has a variety of unique ice cream creations. If you’re in the mood for a delectable treat try Kay’s Famous Torch, a cone inside a cone concoction topped with an American Flag. But you don’t have to enjoy the scoops alone; the stand features ice cream for dogs, topped with a biscuit, allowing you to share the best of summer with your best friend. Manager of the East Greenwich office, Cheryl Eley, recommends the Baseball Cap Sundae (available in your favorite sports team), which seems sure to charm sports-lovers and taste-buds alike.

Brickley’s Homemade Ice Cream and Cakes has only been open for 13 years, but it’s already become an essential part of summer in South County. With two locations, one in Wakefield and the other in Narragansett, this is the perfect place to get a sugar fix on the way home from the beach. The owner doesn’t mess around with fancy flavors, but instead prefers to mix up forty-eight favorites each season using fresh ingredients. These scoops can then be topped with traditional mainstays like “jimmies,” hot fudge and caramel. Agent Judy Chace recommends the Mint Chocolate Chip.

Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton Four Corners has become synonymous with summer in Rhode Island. The stand has been in business for eighty eight years, and many locals have childhood memories there, waiting in line for a cone. Gray’s ability to remain as a permanent Rhode Island fixture is part of its charm, and just so, the menu has remained unchanged for many years. You can still order classic favorites and feed the remainder to the cows (Oscar and Emmy) in the adjacent paddock. While  variations in flavor and texture are exceptional, it’s the simple aesthetic and country atmosphere that make Gray’s such a beloved summertime destination.  Grey’s is so good even my daughter insisted on serving their flavors with her wedding cake.

May 10th, 2011
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How important is the proficiency of a school system in the decision process for a new home? As the school year draws to a close it is a good time to evaluate that question., the online newspaper for Rhode Island,  posted their second annual ranking of public high schools around the state.  During their research on the article, we were asked to give our opinion on that decision process from a first hand experience.  Specifically, they wanted to report on how our clients evaluated the schools information.

According to the article the top five high schools in Rhode Island were East Greenwich, Narragansett, Exeter-West Greenwich, South Kingstown, and Barrington.  To see where your school ranked and the rest of the extensive research visit the golocalprov’s site.