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Sweet Family Houses

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1870s. 620, 650, 668, 675 East Ave. (Route 107)

On East Avenue, formerly Sweet's Hill Road is a group of houses built on the hill by the Sweet family in the 1870s and 1880s in variant versions of rural Italianate (numbers 625, 650, and 675, as well as a Greek Revival house at number 668, also occupied by members of the family). David Mathewson, a grandson of the original settler, lived in a Greek Revival house at the foot of the hill. He became a major builder in the area in the mid-nineteenth-century and was reportedly responsible for some hundred buildings. Almost nothing precise is known about them, except that they include a number of mills, of which the A. L. Sayles Mill in Pascoag and the Plainville Mill in Massachusetts, both demolished, are known to be his. His sister married Henry Sweet, an expert in machine installation whose work took him to many states and to Cuba. It was their three sons who came to dominate the summit of the hill, as dairy farmers, one also becoming a meat packer, another a lumber dealer.

The Thomas Sweet House, at number 675, displays another variant of the way in which the one-and-one-half-story Greek Revival format can be Victorianized by bracketing (here wide-spaced and doubled); a small, centered cross gable (which might equally be termed a large dormer); and nominal “Renaissance” projecting lintels over the windows, together with a bracketed entrance and side porches, supported on columns with bases which have become rather like posts. A curious anomaly is the continuation of the bracketed cornice at the base of the gable, which is interrupted by a round-arched Italianate window. It seems to be the relic of a Greek Revival pediment holding fast to old ways in a new stylistic situation, although it could be a later renovation cut through the line of the old eave.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


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William H. Jordy et al., "Sweet Family Houses", [Burrillville, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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