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Seven Oaks

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1873, James Renwick. 136 Hope St.

An unspoken but enduring respect for local tradition as well as a static economy ensured that Bristol had little to do with the vagaries of High Victorian architecture. One great exception is Seven Oaks, a florid Gothic Revival showpiece which lords it over a splendid site at the southern end of Hope Street, near the tip of the peninsula. Seven Oaks was built for Augustus O. Bourn, the founder of the National Rubber Company (and from 1883 to 1885 governor of Rhode Island), who lived here until his death in 1925.

Bourn's architect was James Renwick of New York, celebrated as a Gothic revivalist but fluent in all mid-Victorian styles. Seven Oaks's jagged roofline, additive composition of towers and dormers, and meandering plan are Gothic in inspiration, but they show the picturesque forms of the earlier Gothic Revival. In fact, Seven Oaks is much more in the spirit of A. J. Downing's rural cottages than of contemporary High Victorian work. Of special note is the splendid Victorian landscaping of the grounds, which complements the animated and energetic forms of the house.

Here the pedestrian can continue to the left and proceed to High Street, while the motorist might proceed to the more widely spaced attractions near the tip of the peninsula.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Seven Oaks", [Bristol, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-BR26.

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