Andrews Hall was built after WWII to serve as a dormitory for Pembroke College, the women’s college affiliated with Brown University (later merging in 1971). The new building was named for Elisha Benjamin Andrews, president of Brown University (1889-1898) who was instrumental in the establishment of the college for women in 1891. The new building created a central link, joining Miller and Metcalf halls and nearly doubling the dormitory capacity of Pembroke College, creating an enclosed yard in the process. The architectural firm of Perry, Shaw, Hepburn & Dean (in existence today as Perry Dean Rogers Architects) was hired to provide the plans, which serves a northern edge of the small former Pembroke College quad. Principal architect Thomas Mott Shaw used specially colored brick to give the building a weathered look to achieve harmony with the two buildings which it connected. The style of Andrews Hall is Colonial Revival with a hip on cross-gable roof and is constructed of brick with central three-bays clad limestone facing the courtyard. The building is set over the dining hall which is set into the sunken landscape with the terrace above. The three buildings were recently renovated by CBT Architects and shine today!
Alumnae Hall – Pembroke College – Brown University // 1926
It’s not often that a building has not one, but three distinct and beautifully designed facades. Lucky for us, the 1926 Alumnae Hall at Pembroke College (now Brown University), fits the bill! Alumnae Hall on the Pembroke Campus was dedicated in October 1927 with funds for the building raised through the efforts of the Alumnae Association with Stephen O. Metcalf would duplicate all gifts of students and alumnae. The campaign continued until 1926, when the $50,000 contributed by the students and the $150,000 contributed by the alumnae, together with Mr. Metcalf’s matching funds, were deemed sufficient to start the building. The cornerstone was laid in May 1926 with the Boston architectural firm of Andrews, Jones, Biscoe and Whitmore as architects, who designed the building in the Colonial Revival style. Alumnae Hall, built of brick with limestone trim, was designed to accommodate the social and religious activities of the Women’s College. Its main entrance is a balustraded stone terrace on the campus leading to an auditorium on the main floor, the various sections create a visually stunning complex of wings and facades built into the landscape.
Sayles Hall – Pembroke College – Brown University // 1907
Sayles Hall was the second purpose-built building erected for Pembroke College, a women’s college affiliated with Brown University in Providence. Sayles was originally built as a gymnasium facility for female students and was designed by the same architects as Pembroke Hall, Stone, Carpenter and Willson. Architecturally, the building compliments Pembroke Hall which was built the decade prior with the use of red brick, terracotta trim, and arched openings and gabled pediments at the roof. The funds for the construction of the building were a gift from Frank A. Sayles (whom the building was originally named after). Until 1990, Sayles Gym was used for sports and offices by the Physical Education Department. In 2001, Sayles Hall was completely renovated and converted into classroom space, receiving a new name (Smith-Buonanno Hall). A great example of adaptive reuse!
Pembroke Hall – Brown University // 1896
Brown University from its founding in 1764 until 1891 never admitted women. Brown’s all-male student body was first challenged in 1874, when the university received an application from a woman (who to this day is still unnamed). The Advisory and Executive committees decided that admitting women at the time was not a good proposal, but they continued to revisit the matter annually until 1888, when they began work to establish a separate women’s college affiliated with Brown. After similar institutions like Radcliffe (affiliated with Harvard) and Barnard College (affiliated with Columbia) were established in 1879 and 1889 respectively, Brown had a blueprint for how to operated the new women’s college. Professors at Brown would work alongside women educators and taught many of the the same courses to men as they did for female students. Pembroke Hall was the first building for Pembroke College and was built in 1896 from plans by local firm Stone, Carpenter and Willson in the Elizabethan Revival style. The building was designed to be multi-purpose with administrative offices, classrooms, reception rooms, and a library in the attic. Pembroke College was officially merged with Brown University in 1971, which was long overdue. The building is one of the finest on Brown’s now co-educational Ivy-league campus.
George Corliss – Charles Brackett House // 1878
This mansion, one of the finest in Providence, was built in the late 1870s by George H. Corliss for his second wife. Corliss (1817-1888) was the inventor of the most widely used industrial steam engine of the nineteenth century. Corliss’ first wife Phebe died in 1859. Seeking companionship, George remarried in 1866 to Emily Shaw who was eighteen years younger than he. Ms. Shaw suffered from poor health and she with the assistance of her doctor, convinced Mr. Corliss that she escape the cold winters of Rhode Island for Bermuda. It does not appear that they relocated to Bermuda, but Corliss stated, “I will build Bermuda for Mrs. Corliss.” He did, and this is it. Corliss used his engineering skills to build a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled building, cool in the summer, warm in the winter. The Italianate Villa is one of the largest in town but employed a style that was dated upon completion. In 1929, Corliss’s great-nephew, screen-writer and movie producer for Paramount Studios Charles Brackett inherited the house. He in turn eventually transferred the house over to Brown in 1955, who have maintained the old mansion to this day!
Samuel B. Wheaton House // 1850
Another Italianate mansion on Angell Street in Providence is the Samuel B. Wheaton House which is presently occupied by Brown University’s English Department. Samuel Burr Wheaton (1807-1863) was a merchant who also served as president of the Phenix Bank. The building is capped by a shallow hip roof which is not visible from the street and wide, overhanging eaves supported by brackets. The house is a Villa in plan as it features irregular massing and not a symmetrical form, just sans tower. The Wheaton House was acquired by Brown University who has since added onto the rear of the house for the English Department offices and classroom spaces. LLB Architects is credited with the contextually designed additions which utilizes lead-coated-copper clad connectors that are recessed between sensitively-scaled brick pavilions that preserve the integrity of the original house by letting it stand proud of the later additions.
King-MacFarlane House // 1845
William Jones King (1803-1885) was born in Providence, Rhode Island as the eldest son of Elijah and Nancy King. His father Elijah was a master-mariner and a wealthy ship-owner, engaging in trade with the West Indies, likely partaking in the transport and sale of humans like many Rhode Island “merchants” at the time. Elijah was travelling to Martinique in 1815, when the Great Gale of 1815, the largest hurricane on record at the time in New England, intercepted the ships and capsized them. Elijah and his crew died at sea. After his father’s untimely death, which left the family poor, William (as the eldest at just 12 years old) became the sole support of his mother and three younger siblings at the time. William eventually became a clerk at the Union Bank in town, moving up the ranks until he became a cotton merchant. He had this home built a few years after his marriage to Lydia Gilbert. The house is an excellent example of a traditional Greek Revival home in the College Hill section of Providence with corner pilasters and central Ionic portico all sited high on a landscaped terrace behind an iron fence. The house is now owned by Brown University and has been renamed MacFarlane House after Walter Kilgore MacFarlane, Jr., a Brown alumnus in the class of 1923. The house today houses the main office of the Classics Department at Brown University.
John Brown IV House // 1752
The John Brown IV House in Swansea was built in 1752 and deed research shows it was built by John Brown IV (1675-1752) the year of his death. John Brown was a member of the prestigious Brown family of Plymouth County MA and Rhode Island (most notably John Brown, the namesake and founder of Brown University). Many members of the Brown family were heavily involved with the trading of slaves, rum, molasses and other goods with the Caribbean island plantations. This home was likely built for John Brown IV’s son, Jeremiah as a gift by his father. The massive Georgian gambrel estate overlooks the Cole River which empties at the Atlantic Ocean just south.