Grace Episcopal Church, Providence // 1845

By 1829, the population of Providence, Rhode Island was spreading from the east side of the Providence River (near Brown University) to the west. Around this time, two dozen parishioners of the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Providence’s East Side purchased the old Providence Theater on the west side of town and renovated it for use as a church. By 1835, the congregation grew to 260, and a new church building was needed. Grace Church hired the foremost architect of the time, Richard Upjohn, to design the beautiful new building, which was the first asymmetrical Gothic Revival church in America when it was completed in 1846! In addition to its architectural significance, the building contains the first painted windows ever seen in Rhode Island. Downtown Providence eventually grew up around the church, really diminishing the chance at a good photo of the building, but later urban renewal and the razing of parts of the downtown area (many undeveloped to this day) provide some interesting sightlines of the towering steeple.

“Highwood” // 1845

“Highwood”, was completed in 1845, and is likely credited to architect Richard M. Upjohn the son of Richard Upjohn Sr., who was known best for New York City’s Trinity Church, who was building a church for the Episcopal congregation in Stockbridge at the time. The home sits near Tanglewood, both since being absorbed into the Tanglewood Music Center campus today. The home was built for 27-year-old Samuel Gray Ward (1817-1907) an American poet, author, and minor member of the Transcendentalism movement. He was also a banker and a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among his circle of contemporaries were poets and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller. He desired country living with his family and became a “gentleman farmer” while he wrote in his home, overlooking the large lake. The family lived here year-round until he was called back to Boston to assist his father in business ventures. In 1857, the Wards realized their time at Highwood had come to an end and sold the estate to another Boston couple, William Story Bullard and his wife, Louisa Norton Bullard who settled into their new home, which they were not afraid to alter, including the addition of a mansard roof. The home was occupied by the family 1960. The home was later acquired by John Mason Harding, a New York lawyer and his wife, Mary Riker Harding. Idyllic summers did not last long for the Hardings as in the late 1970s, Tanglewood and the BSO sponsored rock concerts began playing. Mr. Harding complained that he didn’t expect to have Woodstock in his backyard and brought suit against the BSO to limit the length and noise level of the concerts. The home was eventually purchased by the BSO in 1986.