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The Yankee Express

Northbridge’s historic Wing Tavern a perfect fit for Attorney Rob Knapik

The eagle has landed! This hand-painted war eagle motif completes a recently designed sign for the front of Rob Knapik’s law office in the historic Wing Tavern on Providence Road in Northbridge.

by Jabiz Wing and Alden White and which originally served as a stopping-off point for stagecoach travelers on the “new” highway between Providence and Worcester.
The building also houses Larson, Potter, Stratton & Cote a financial services firm and the Hard Knocks barbershop.
  Home to generations of Northbridge families, the structure is in good hands today, as it was when previously owned by local realtor and developer Ed Renaud. Mr. Renaud renovated the premises for office space.
As he probably did in briefing people who attended an Open House at 1279 Providence Road seven years ago, Mr. Knapik enjoys sharing specifics about the building. It remains a strikingly handsome edifice and is one of the town of Northbridge’s many prized historic properties.
The Wing Tavern features four chimneys and eight fireplaces. The sturdy brick walls of the main house are “four thick on the first floor and two thick on the second floor,” he explains. The main house as originally constituted included a kitchen and pantry. The backyard contained “a long shed for horses, carriages, coaches and wagons.” The roof over the front porch was constructed of a single massive slab of granite supported by the brick wall and two stone pillars.
The frame of the building was crafted of oak timbers from nearby woodlots.
Recently, Mr. Knapik says, “I went to pretty great lengths to design and commission a sign” out front “that [is] intended to be respectful and pay homage to the architecture and history of the building.” Engaging Sal D’Amato, and Dave and Brian Glispin from Sunshine Sign, he envisioned a sign that would be both durable and modern but also period-centric with the post-and-beam structure itself.
“Sal and his crew found two posts from a dismantled barn” to hold the sign, he said.
“The final element,” the crowning touch to the sign, is “a war eagle motif, hand-painted,” which was due to be placed just below ‘1279’ and just above ‘Wing Tavern’” in late August.
His current attachment to 1279 Providence Road is not his first. Starting out, his office was situated in the building. “I was a tenant,” he says, pointing out that he has come “full circle.”
He is appreciative of having found his way back to the Wing Tavern.
“I don’t know too many lawyers who spend their workday with their Labrador retriever snoozing next to them on the couch in their office, but I can tell you it sure does have a calming effect!” he says.
Mr. Knapik is respectful of and plans to continue to be a conscientious steward of the property.
“The brick walls were stacked in 1817,” he notes. “I ought to do what I can to leave it as well as I found it.”
Years ago, Mr. Knapik was a capable “stringer” photographer for local publications with a darkroom in his then-home in Linwood. He would not go so far as to say he was a working “photojournalist,” but he loved the challenge of mastering the equipment and developing an eye for subject matter. He considered it “a hobby. As I tell my friends with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Sports Illustrated never called to offer me a job, so I went to law school instead,” he says.
In the sixteen years since he hung out his shingle, Mr. Knapik has been fortunate to have the support of family, “and I can say with certainty that after five years commuting to Boston working as an environmental lawyer, it was truly life changing to be able to open a practice in the town I called home.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.By Rod Lee
Rob Knapik not only found his true calling years after seemingly establishing himself in other professions, he also discovered a property that suits his redefined career perfectly.
Mr. Knapik has been an attorney since graduating from the New England School of Law in 2000. He had formerly worked as a land surveyor and civil engineer. He was also at one time a pretty fair country photographer.
His concentrations as a general-practice attorney include commercial and residential real estate, business law, civil litigation, estate planning, probate of estates and family law. Avril K. Waye, associate, and Julie A. Randall, paralegal, are members of the firm as well.
After a stint as an associate in two Boston law firms, Mr. Knapik set up his own practice in 2005. Since 2014, his law office has been located at 1279 Providence Road in Northbridge, just north of Plummer’s Corner in the historic “White & Wing Farmers Hotel,” or “The Wing Tavern” as it is better known. He took up residence there shortly after acquiring the circa 1820 Federal-style Colonial, which was built