Marie Wells Beauty Parlor

The Marie Wells Beauty Parlor at 18 Benefit St.

The Marie Wells Beauty Parlor at 18 Benefit St.

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Known Name(s)

Marie Wells Beauty Parlor


18 Benefit St. Providence, RI

Establishment Type(s)

Beauty Parlor

Physical Status


Detailed History

The Marie Wells Beauty Parlor was listed in The Green Book for only one year, 1947. According to the city directory, the official name of the business was the Marinella Beauty Shop and its owner was Mary I. Young, who lived upstairs with her husband, Raymond, a window washer. The shift from “Marinella” to “Marie Wells” and the similarity in their phonics suggests that this information was transmitted orally to Green Book staff.

The Marinella Beauty Parlor was founded in about 1947, possibly in the wake of World War II; prior to this, 18 Benefit St. housed a grocery store owned by Max Greenburg. One can imagine that Mary Young saw listing in The Green Book as good advertising for her new business. But, even though she continued to operate her business into the 1960s, she did not retain her Green Book listing.

The house at 18 Benefit Street reflects Antoinette Downing’s efforts to preserve Benefit St. in Providence. At the time, according to Downing, the area was a “slum” afflicted by overcrowding and poor conditions. Galvanized by the Rhode Island School of Design’s plan to demolish large portions of Benefit St. for new dormitories, Downing joined with John Nicholas Brown to found the Providence Preservation Society. In 1960, the College Hill Historic District was created and gentrification ensued. While the street’s poorer and African-American residents were pushed out, 18 Benefit St. survives as a result of these efforts. 


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