Annotations - Thanksgiving 1908

Providence House

This article in Boston College Magazine Vol. XLV, No. 3 (Summer 1986): n. pag. offers an abbreviated history of Providence House:

"To commemorate the building's 35 years of service, we asked a number of alumni about their recollections of the building and the events that took place within. One of those alumni was D. Michael Ryan '67, who, while working at Alumni Hall from 1976 to 1979, became 74 Commonwealth's unofficial historian. He gave us this abbreviated account of its history: Seventy-four Commonwealth was built for Ernest Sharpe in 1904 on the model of an Elizabethan country estate.

      While little is known about Mr. Sharpe, his wife -- called 'Emeral'(sic) for her initials M.R.L. -- was a devout Catholic and passionate anti-vivisectionist who called her home 'Providence House.' After being widowed, Emarel married one Curtis Freshel, an entrepeneur who introduced vitamins to the U.S. from Britian. Freshel, an agnostic at the time of his marriage to the redoubtable widow, was subsequently converted to Catholicism by the then Msgr. Fulton Sheen.

      A close friend of George Bernard Shaw and Mary Baker Eddy, Mrs. Freshel made her home at 74 Commonwealth a retreat and salon for illuminati from the arts, literature and theater. Both Shaw and Eddy came to call.

      Mr. Freshel's business ventures took him to New York in the 1920s. The house was used as a summer retreat for awhile, and then the Freshels sold it. Under its new owners, the house fell into disrepair. During World War II, it was used to billet troops. BC bought it in 1948 and, in 1951, the Alumni Association moved in."