Tour of superior courthouse

DSCN0107.JPG

View down George St., courthouse center right, its tower upper right. (Photos by David Brussat)

A while back, R.I. Supreme Court Justice Gilbert Indeglia, whom I’d met after giving a talk on architecture in Kingston, near URI’s main campus, a couple of years ago, invited me to tour the Providence County Courthouse. I’d been there before. I had a served on a grand jury – where I’d heard the gory details of, among others, a case in which the suspect ran over his victim with a car (back and forth, in her own driveway). And for my first 14 years in Providence, living on Benefit Street, I had frequently used the courthouse as an elevator from South Main Street to Benefit, five stories up. It is one of my favorite buildings in Providence, perhaps second only to the the Rhode Island State House on Smith Hill beyond downtown.

My tour was delayed by writing Lost Providence, in which the courthouse figures (even though it has not been lost). Before the manuscript came back to me today with copyediting suggestions, I had time to take the tour.

Justice Indeglia and Deputy Sheriff Everett LaMountain (now there’s a lofty moniker!) took me around the building, showing me a host of recently renovated courtrooms, from whose furniture was removed decades of penknifed signatures and other art, replacing old carpet and refurbishing some hundreds or thousands of square feet of mahogany. The original beauty of the courtrooms (in my opinion never really dimmed that much by time’s vicissitudes) has been restored by a craftsmanship still flourishing amid its supposed dark ages.

From one courtroom near the top floor of the courthouse’s nine stories we looked out a window to the north. The judge hinted that most workers in the groves of justice would have preferred a view of the State House more than the orange brick of the RISD Chace Center of 2008. They are fortunate, however, in that the view of the inside of their own workplace is sufficiently splendid to overshadow any disappointment of the outside view.

My patient guides kept me informed and entertained Monday afternoon as I shot a full “roll.” Sheriff LaMountain did double duty three days later after I found that I’d had the camera set to “Effects” rather than to “Auto” – no wonder those shots looked so fuzzy. He superintended my visit to retake them. I have arranged them not in historical order but in subject sets – hallways, public spaces, courtrooms and architectural detail, introduced by several outside shots. This masterpiece of architecture was built between 1928 and 1933 and designed by the firm of Jackson, Robertson & Adam, who also designed RISD’s Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf Building across College Street. May readers appreciate it through this post rather than a visit under the exigencies of the law. In any event, the building may, for the most part, be freely examined by those whose appetites are whetted here.

DSCN7829.JPG

IMGP5838.JPG

DSCN0010 - Version 2.JPG

DSCN0013.jpg

DSCN0026.jpg

DSCN0047.jpg

DSCN0031.jpg

DSCN0035.jpg

DSCN0066.JPG

DSCN0090.JPG

DSCN0052.JPG

DSCN0051.JPG

DSCN0016.JPG

DSCN9993.JPG

DSCN9995.JPG

DSCN0054.JPG

DSCN0036.JPG

DSCN0040.JPG

DSCN0023 - Version 2.JPG

DSCN0030.JPG

DSCN0075.JPG

DSCN0080.jpg

DSCN0063.jpg

DSCN0060.JPG

DSCN0057.JPG

DSCN0061.JPG

DSCN0027.JPG

DSCN0067.JPG

DSCN0028.JPG

DSCN0071.jpg

DSCN0045.JPG

DSCN0018.JPG

DSCN0018 - Version 2.JPG

DSCN0074.JPG

DSCN0042.JPG

DSCN0043.JPG

DSCN0064.JPG

DSCN0058.JPG

DSCN0053.JPG

DSCN0059.jpg

DSCN0070.jpg

DSCN0049.JPG

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. 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. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and 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 invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, 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.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tour of superior courthouse

  1. Pingback: Ruskin’s “Two Paths” speech | Architecture Here and There

  2. I think I remember that a survey of architects in Rhode Island for their favorite building some years ago selected this building as the favorite.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s