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Glendale New Village

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c. 1936, Jackson, Robertson and Adams. Elm, Maple Leaf, Woodside, and Stockwell rds.

The most interesting architecture in Glendale is outside the village proper. This gridded enclave of some thirty one-story houses was self-consciously set a little apart as a new village. Having tested three variant examples of modern vernacular mill housing in Harrisville (see BU21 and BU22), Austin Levy built this village shortly after acquiring the Glendale plant. (On Levy and his more extensive benefactions for his headquarters mill village, see Harrisville, immediately below.) When Henry-Russell Hitchcock wrote his Rhode Island Architecture (1939), he judged it to be the most significant example of contemporary group housing in the state, although he frowned on its conception as a collection of individual houses, which hampered its comprehension as an entity. (At the time, progressive modernist architectural theory emphasized collective planning even as enlightened mill owners in Rhode Island sought to eliminate the stigma of earlier collective housing.) Smooth stucco wall surfaces, unbroken and unaccented by moldings; the elegant attenuation of windows and door elements; the absence of specific allusion to past styles, except for a touch of nostalgia in hipped or low-pitched gable roofs and trellising at front doors: these qualities indicate Levy's attempt to effect a compromise between modern architecture and traditional house types, of which he was fond. Although it is tightly and unimaginatively sited, the prim maintenance of New Village preserves something of the aura of hopeful enlightenment which brought it into being. As with all such communities, which were models for their time, typical alterations through the years will also interest those concerned with architectural and social history: the closing of porches to make winter vestibules; programs for enlargement and garaging; efforts to individualize houses (which Hitchcock had criticized as being conceptually too individualistic). But happily the ideal of a unified community of related houses persists.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Glendale New Village", [Burrillville, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-BU13.

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