Situated at the corner of Bridgham and Westminster Streets, the Dudley House rests in the Broadway-Armory National Historic District of Providence's West Side. As mid-19th century development of the West Side coincided with the Greek Revival Period in America, the majority of the homes on Westminster were built in this style in designs that often came from building guides such as Arthur Benjamin's Practice of Architecture, 1836. Among these homes is the Italianate-styled Dudley house, a two-story structure with a bracketed cornice, portico, window caps, and wooden columns. The house was built in 1857 by owner Charles Dudley, a dry goods businessman from South Providence who moved to the then rural neighborhood in 1855. At this time many new residences were being built along Westminster Street, representing the then emerging merchant middle-class move to the Armory District.
Previously called Plainfield Road, Westminster Street acted as a nexus to the two neighborhoods of Olneyville and Downtown, taking part in a growing network of roads that connected the burgeoning trade of 18th century Providence. By the early 19th century, the West Side assumed a major role in the industrial development of the city. The development of the West Side began around Hoyle Square, where a tavern was established in 1720 at the intersection of Cranston and Westminster Streets; development soon spread westward with the founding of several factories. Through its growth as a manufacturing center, the West Side also grew as a major residential area to new Irish and Italian immigrant communities. By the 1950's however, the neighborhood experienced major out-migration as the construction of I-95 induced middle-class flight to the suburbs. By isolating the Westside from Downtown, it also resulted in the decline of investments to the area. Following WWII more than a third of the population left, resulting in vacant schools and churches. Many historic buildings were demolished at this time, leaving the street lined with deteriorating buildings and various land uses.
In efforts to restore Westminster Street back to its once thriving condition, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association bought and restored the Dudley house. The house was transformed by local designers and artists into a showcase of twenty-five spaces, celebrating community efforts to rebuild its neighborhood. The design house was opened as month-long fundraiser from October to November 2003 to highlight and revitalize the life of the neighborhood and to encourage sustainable development and historic preservation of its inhabited spaces. From the proceeds of the fundraisor, the second floor of the house will be available for low to middle income housing, and the first floor will be open to below-market rent for non-profit organizations
Levine, Barbara, "Gowdy Collection: Providence Preservation Soceiety House Histories," September 1979
Statewide Preservation Report: Westside, Providence, Providence : Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission, May 1976
Woodward, McKenzie & Sanderson, Edward F., Providence, A Citywide Survey of Historic Resources , Providence: Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission 1986
Cady, John Hutchins, Civic and Architectural Developments of Providence 1636-1950 , Providence: The Bookshop, 1957
Interview with Kari Lang, Executive Director of West Broadway Neighborhood Assocation, November 5, 2003.