You honestly cannot beat Providence when it comes to brick Italianate mansions… The Smith Owen Mansion on College Hill was built in 1861 for jeweler and silversmith Smith Owen (1809-1889) and is one of the finest homes in a neighborhood full of historically and architecturally significant properties. Mr. Owen was in business with his brother George, and they manufactured and sold some of the best jewelery in the region, largely from their commercial block downtown (featured here previously). He hired Alpheus C. Morse and Alfred Stone, local architects who furnished the plans for the colossal home. Owen lived here until his death, which occurred less than a week after his wife’s passing. His daughter Lydia Dexter Owen Beckwith (1850-1947) inherited the property and lived here with her family until her death. It was under Lydia’s ownership that the Colonial Revival entrance details were added with projecting vestibule with columns and urns and central fan transom. It is really something special!
providence rhode island architecture
First Church of Christ Scientist, Providence // 1906
One of the most stunning and monumental buildings in Providence is this building, a church which pretty closely resembles the Rhode Island State House! Christian Scientists in Providence began to hold informal services in 1889 and received a charter from the state legislature in 1895. Construction started on this church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in 1906 from plans by local architect Howard Hoppin who roughly modeled the building after the congregation’s Mother Church in Boston. The Classical Revival building is capped by a copper hemispherical dome supported by a colonnade of Corinthian columns. The main block of the structure at the street is fairly modest, possibly due to the residential character of its surroundings.
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!