Architectural Gems -- 08/31/06

Last year the Narragansett Towers and the Kinney Bungalow at Sunset Farms got together with four other local organizations that were also involved with sites of historical - architectural - artistic interest (Courthouse Center for the Arts, Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum, Smith's Castle, and the South County Museum) and formed the Culture Coalition. At various times last year they sponsored a coordinated series of lectures and events. (For example, see these entries from last year: Gibson Girls and Antique Cars.)

I had mentioned the other day that, among other things, Nancy and I had been busy going to some history and architecture lectures -- that was part of this years Culture Coalition programming. They also sponsored an Architectural Gems open house tour of eight local homes of historical and architectural interest -- and that is how we spent about three and a half hours on Saturday...

Druidsdream (1884)

This house was build by Joseph Peace Hazard (1807-1892), the sixth of nine children born to Rowland Hazard (1758-1828), a successful shipping merchant who then began to invest in the new textile industry, and his wife, Mary Peace (1775-1852). Interestingly (and, it seems to me, especially for that era) only three of these children married (those three having a total of sixteen children), the rest, including Joseph Peace Hazard, were bachelors and spinsters.

He was reputed (as was at least one of his brothers) to be deeply into spiritualism. According to legend, one night he had a dream in which Druids directed him to build this house and so he did. (He also built other interesting buildings.)

Fairlawn (1885)

This house was designed by McKim, Mead, and White (and, indeed, the curved staircase reflects the sinuous quality that White would bring to the "Sweetheart Staircase" in the Rosecliff mansion.

In recent years the house had been abandoned following the death of an elderly owner and the current owner had to put considerable expense and effort into restoring it. It was a successful restoration and Fairlawn today is both a lovely work of architectural art and a comfortable and functional home for a family.

Dunmere Gatehouse (1883, 1889, 1982)

Robert Graham Dun (yes, the Dun of Dun & Bradstreet) build an opulent Queen Anne-style mansion with extensive grounds (he kept adding more land to his parcel) designed by noted landscape architect Nathan Franklin Barrett. The mansion is gone (lost to fire many years ago) but the gatehouse remains.

Originally it was a stone water tower (1883) with a windmill on top to pump water from wells into the tower and then gravity feed to water the formal gardens. In 1889 it was expanded (with multiple rooms and a pair of stone turrets to match the original tower) to serve as a residence for his chief groundskeeper. The present owner expanded it in 1982 with the shingled addition that blends in as if it had always been part of the building.

Stone Lea (1883)

Another McKim, Mead, and White designed house.It has returned to being a private home, although it had spent part of the late 20th century as a Bed & Breakfast (and the second and third floors contain ten bedrooms and ten bathrooms).

Below -- left -- one of our pool of attendants from The Towers and Kinney Bungalow, in period costume on the landing of the main staircase, telling ghost stories about the house and keeping visitors from wandering beyond the ground floor. Below -- right -- from the lawn on the opposite side of the house from the road, a view up the coast showing some of the neighboring mansions (off to the right is a steep drop-off to rocks and waves).

Old Perryville Baptist Church (1845)

Built in 1845 -- converted to private residence in 1988 when the congregation moved to a new and modern building. The current owner informed me that 4th level deck in the steeple (reached via a circular staircase from the master bedroom) has a view that includes Block Island and Mohegan Point (the tip of New York's Long Island). [And yes, Perryville is named after the Perry family, which includes Oliver Hazard Perry, naval hero in the War of 1812 and his younger brother, Admiral Matthew Calbraith Perry, who led the U.S. fleet that opened Japan to outsiders.]
The Red House (late 1700s)

Just a couple hundred feet from the Old Perryville Baptist Church, the Red House is a Georgian half house (so-called because it was designed so that it could easily be doubled in size if future prosperity allowed) that was originally build as an inn. Just the right half of the the building you see pictured is the original 18th century building; the left side was added just a few years ago. The owner says this took some soul-searching but seemed right since the original building was designed and built with the expectation of future expansion.

Oliver Watson House (1796)

This house is on the main campus of URI. The 140 acre Watson farm was purchased by the state in 1888 to be the site of a state agricultural college (which later became the University of Rhode Island). In 1895 the farm house became the first women's dormitory at the college, housing 14 female students (and apparently had the first indoor flush toilet that was installed on campus) -- later uses included being a fraternity house, a men's dorm, a tea room, and a day-care center. Then it was abandoned for a number of years and then restored at considerable expense. Inside the building has been furnished with various historical items giving it a bit of an Old Sturbridge Village feel but the peeling paint indicates once again neglected maintenance.

General Isaac Peace Rodman House (1855)

Isaac Peace Rodman (1822-1862) a successful businessman (owner of textile mills and director of two local banks), a popular local political leader (town council, state General Assembly and state Senate), and a devout Quaker, married to Sally Lyman Arnold (daughter of a former governor). When the Civil War broke out he was torn between his Quaker pacifist ideals on the one hand and his hatred of slavery and his loyalty to the Union on the other. He raised soldiers for the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry and was made a captain. Fought at 1st Bulls Run, was made colonel, fought in other battles, was honored for bravery and promoted to brigadier general. Caught typhoid fever but against physician's orders returned to active duty and was fatally wounded at the battle of Antietem.

previous entry

next entry

To list of entries for 2006

To Home (Index) page


Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com