Two lovely local buildings


I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I thought I’d just post photos of a couple very nice local buildings, a house and a school office, on the East Side of Providence. Maybe the 40th anniversary of the East Side Monthly, run by Barry Fain (a lonely voice, once upon a time, pushing for tradition on Capital Center Commission’s design panel) and his compatriots. Its anniversary issue, filled with much grist for memory, just came out.

Anyhow, the offices of the Wheeler School at 216 Hope Street are on top. Built in 1913 and designed by F.W. Sawtelle, its Elizabethan Revival design strikes me as among the most enchanting in Providence. And on the bottom is the Bessie and Harry Marshak House, at 549 Wayland Ave., built in 1931. Not sure what to make of its design – eclectic, surely, said to be the work of architect Harry Marshak himself – with its brickwork featuring a huge rough inlaid medallion to the right of its arched, many-paned, ceiling-high front window, and its charming second-floor balcony above its elegantly hooded corner entry. I just noticed this house a few days ago, and I have been back to ponder it several times since. The link takes you to a description by Robert O. Jones in the Gowdey Collection of the Providence Preservation Society.


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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13 Responses to Two lovely local buildings

  1. Pingback: Providence lost, regained II | Architecture Here and There

  2. The pattern in the brickwork is a ship. There are nautical symbols in several places in the brickwork-an anchor next to the chimney and portholes in the back of the house.


  3. Nothing wrong with posting photos of very nice buildings! I do it all the time 😉 I especially enjoy the corner hooded entry – fantastic!


  4. Stephen ORourke says:

    Nice indeed!


  5. Peter Allen says:

    Great choices. I never looked at the Wheeler bldg. very closely before.


  6. Thank you for featuring Wheeler’s Hope Building, and to add further to your research, Mr. Sawtelle died in 1911 while the project was underway and his assistant, Frances E. Henley, one of the state’s first noted women architects completed the work.


  7. I seem to remember a survey of architects in Rhode Island done in the ’90s, and our favorite building was the Providence County Courthouse (later renamed for Licht). It’s a masterful building, responding to both the distant view in it’s massing, and relating to the streets, while containing a large amount of office space (I think it’s larger than Rubic’s Cube down the street). Regardless of what the survey said, it’s my favorite.


    • That’s one of my favorites, too. I think it may even be – so far as I know – the largest neo-Georgian building in the world. The way its gabled winglets march up College Street and Hopkins is masterful architecture and masterful urbanism. You used to be able to go into the building and take the elevator up the five flights to Benefit. (You still can if you don’t mind going through security.) But my fave still has to be the State House.


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