Pavilions of Lincoln Woods

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New beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods State Park, viewed through bridge rail. (Photo by author)

There’s still time today, if you are in Rhode Island, to see the new pavilions at Lincoln Woods, the park in Lincoln, in the Blackstone River Valley north of Providence. Designed by Brewster Thornton Group Architects of Providence and erected by Ahlborg Construction of Warwick, the three structures add much to the lakeside’s beachly ambiance. And that’s what they’ll be doing next weekend, too, and for many more to come.

The pavilions boast a revivalist Shingle Style with asymmetrical massing, including a gentle giant of a tower, all covered by standing-seam roofs with deep eaves that add to the new structures’ nostalgic beauty, offer shade and protect the façades’ tan walls of wood shakes that sit atop bases of granite stone. The roof overhangs enable a more robust sustainability.

Their predecessor may have approached as near as midcentury modern could to avoiding the machine aesthetic, as if such an aesthetic is appropriate at a beach. Still, since their last renovation in the 1980s they had aged poorly, in part because modernism abhors a roof overhang – if it permits a pitched roof at all. The deep overhangs of the new pavilions, and the granite and shingle materials of their construction, will ensure a longer shelf life.

The earlier work was based on outdated modernist concepts that refuse to concede the utility of traditional styles. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management had mandated “green” pavilions, and various other strategies toward that purpose were incorporated. But the true green architecture is, in fact, traditional architecture. For example, according to the Valley Breeze, one feature included was “a combination of passive ventilation and daylight to minimize the need for cooling and heating.” What that means is windows that open and close, and are large enough to admit the sun’s rays – good for lighting, too!

Instead of allowing time and weather to wreak its havoc on structures whose designers have abandoned the basic tools of architecture, time and weather will now work hand in hand with the new pavilions, aging them gracefully, slowing the pace of their deterioration, and saving taxpayers money on the cost of their maintenance. And such sensible techniques are not applicable merely to buildings where beachgoers can put on their bathing suits.

So Brewster Thornton has returned traditional green to Lincoln Woods. Good work!

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New main beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods, Lincoln, R.I.

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Parts of all three new pavilions (main pavilion at center) at Lincoln Woods.

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Previous beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods.

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Previous beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods.

I know it’s good because we went to see the pavilions last weekend. But Lincoln Woods doesn’t just have new buildings for me to gawk at, it has nature, too. See?

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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 Pavilions of Lincoln Woods

  1. Charming! The buildings, too!


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