In search of Russell Warren


Russell Warren’s Dr. Nathan Durfee House, Fall River. (“Books on Paper”)

Through my correspondent Peter Van Erp, Corinne Barber of the Rhode Island Historical Society has made it known that the Society will be digitizing drawings and other documents of Russell Warren, the celebrated 19th century Rhode Island architect. He is perhaps best known for his work with James Bucklin on the Providence Arcade, built in 1828, possibly the third and certainly the oldest remaining indoor mall in the United States. During his career he worked up and down the Eastern Seaboard, including a stint of several years in South Carolina. If anybody is aware of local archives housing original sketches, plans or other material attributed to or about him, Corinne and the Society would love to hear from you.

She also hopes that some firms will be in a position to help finance this project.

Here are some of Corinne’s thoughts:

The mission of the Russell Warren Project is to make available in a single location the plans created by Russell Warren and the historical documents relating to his life that are currently located in archives across the region. By digitizing these records, we will encourage broader access to these collections and protect the original materials from repeated physical use. RIHS hopes to close the gap between these varied collections by hosting their digitized versions with links to their home organizations in one streamlined, online catalog.  Over the course of this project, we also hope that our efforts will encourage other members of the community to identify their pieces of Russell Warren history, helping to assemble a more complete portfolio of this prolific R.I. architect.

Of course, once we find the plans, it’s going to cost money to have them digitized.  I would love to be able to get the R.I. architect community involved in covering that cost (it’s really very little).

Of course, Russell Warren plays a role in my upcoming book, Lost Providence, and I have personally experienced the difficulty of acquiring high-quality copies of Warren’s elegant architecture drawings – and not only drawings by him. This digital centralization concept seems certain to be of high value to anyone interested in American architecture.

Here is Corinne’s contact information:

Corinne Barber
Development Officer
Rhode Island Historical Society
110 Benevolent Street
Providence, R.I. 02906


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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1 Response to In search of Russell Warren

  1. Thanks for posting this, David!


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