By Christine Dunn, Journal Staff Writer
After a mansion owned by John M. Dean, a Cranston furniture retailer and longtime city councilor, was destroyed by fire in 1933, his estate, which was known for its extensive gardens and apple orchards, was subdivided and sold as house lots.
Development there boomed in the years following World War II. Today, Dean Estates is an established suburban neighborhood in the Meshanticut section of the city.
Perched on a hill west of the Garden City Center mall, it is still notable for its lush gardens and greenery, and its many mature shade trees.
Although intense housing and commercial development in this corridor has increased traffic on the main streets, Dean Estates still has pockets that have the feel of a private wooded hideaway.
But only a minute or two away is the multiple-lane traffic on Reservoir Avenue, whizzing by construction crews building more stores, offices and condominiums at the new Chapel View mixed-use development next to Garden City Center.
For Dean Estates residents, the traffic is a bother, but the convenience is hard to beat.
Garden City Center and Chapel View are their downtown, with two supermarkets, a post office, restaurants, offices and plenty of retail shops.
“How much do I love Garden City?” Verena Grossi said with a smile and shrug. “And now we’ve got the Whole Foods, and nice dress shops. …”
Grossi has lived on Bretton Woods Drive in Dean Estates for 23 years and raised two sons there with her husband, who is a lawyer. Once or twice, she said, they’ve considered moving to larger, more luxurious quarters, but in the end they’ve always decided against it. Her house is an elegant Colonial with a massive oak tree in the front yard, and Grossi likes to garden. Her yard includes a pine tree that she planted with one of her boys after a school trip to a tree farm. Today, the tree is over 10 feet tall.
Although Dean Estates is mostly a development of single-family homes, it is ringed by a number of apartment and condominium communities, many built by Johnston-based Carpionato Properties, which is also developing Chapel View. Carpionato still owns and manages the Chateau Surcrest, Chateau Belvedere and Chateau Chatillon apartment complexes.
Single-family houses listed for sale in Dean Estates last week ranged in price from $334,900, for a 1940 Cape with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 1,324 square feet of living space, at 27 Sagamore Rd., to $899,000 for a 1995 Colonial at 3 Dean Ridge Drive, with 4 bedrooms, 4 full bathrooms and 4,752 square feet of space.
(Cranston, 2000) 79,269
MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE:
(Cranston, 2007) $243,750
John M. Dean’s grandson, John Dean Suesman, was one of the developers of Dean Estates.