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.

Edward Aldrich House // 1902

Built next door and just a year after the Hidden Family House (last post), the Edmund Aldrich House in Providence’s College Hill neighborhood shows how stately a wood-frame Colonial Revival house can be! The property was purchased by U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator, Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich (1841-1915) who quickly sold the lot to his son Edward Aldrich, who worked as president of the Times Publishing Company and was very engaged in Republican politics along with members of his family. The Colonial Revival style dwelling was designed by Providence architecture firm, Stone, Carpenter & Willson, who were pretty prolific in this part of the region by this time. It exhibits a gambrel roof punctuated with segmental pedimented dormers along with a segmental pedimented portico over the entrance. Swoon! In his will, Edward left the property to Brown University, who apparently saw no need for the property and eventually sold it to private owners. The owners today maintain the house very well.

Exchange Bank Building // 1845

Founded in 1801, the National Exchange Bank built this structure in 1845 in what would become Downtown Providence, an area with more residential quality than the much-developed East Side. The bank likely knew what was to come in terms of development here, so invested in a new masonry building to serve as the new headquarters of the bank. The northern half of the building is more typical Greek Revival in style with granite base and clean proportions. In 1887-8, the southern portion of the building was redesigned in the academic Queen Anne style to designs by Stone, Carpenter & Willson. This section of the building has amazing oriel windows, brownstone trim, slate mansard roof, and a clock.