History of the Provencher House North Adams, Massachusetts

History of the Provencher House, 17 Willow Street, North Adams, Massachusetts

This 15 room house was purchased by Dr. Desire R. Provencher, O.D. around 1929. Half of the basement was a recreation room, paneled in knotty pine, with colorful game squares painted on the cement floor. It was used for weekly bridge games and family parties. The other half of the basement contained a wine cellar, the laundry and furnace, and a custom playhouse at one end for the Provencher daughters, Anne and Mary. There was also a half bath at that end of the basement.

The first story had a formal entry hall with a crystal chandelier. The oak floors were covered with Persian rugs. To the right of the hall was a formal dining room, with a butler's pantry connecting to the kitchen. To the left of the hall was a library with book cases lining two of the walls, filled with reference books and rare editions of Robert Burns, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jack London and other authors. It was divided from the living room by sliding pocket doors, so the two rooms could be made into one large one.

The living room had a fireplace on one end and a bay window with window seats on one side. Bookcases flanked the fireplace,and a piano flanked one wall. Here too, Persian rugs covered the hardwood floors. Crown molding was throughout the rooms on the first story.

Under the stairway on the first floor was a sewing room. On the stairs leading to the second floor was a landing with a spinning wheel. The second floor had four bedrooms and two bathrooms, all opening off a round hallway.The Provencher daughters, Anne-Valerie and Mary and their brother Don and parents' rooms were on this floor.

The third floor contained two bedrooms, a small parlor and the attic storage area. It had dormer windows looking out over the street. One bedroom was the maid's room and the other was rented to the city librarian, Miss Abbie Metcalf.

Gardening was a hobby of Dr. Provencher's, so the side yard was beautifully landscaped with rock gardens, rose bushes, all sorts of blossoming shrubs, and sumac trees planted around the oriental pond. The pond contained Japanese carp of all colors, pond lillies and had a waterfall on one end. The back yard had lilac trees and a grape arbor, beyond which was the vegetable garden and both raspberry and blackberry bushes. There were several varieties of apple trees also in front of rambling roses on the back fence. A flagstone walk ran from the back door of the house to a two car garage.

This home was sold in 1943, after Dr. Provencher suffered a stroke, limiting his ability to maintain such a large home. It was converted into apartments, then some time later became a fraternity house for North Adams State College students, which it still is today.

by Mary Provencher Taylor

The Provencher House Now

Mary and two sons and daughter-in-law in front of the Provencher House; now a Fraternity House.

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