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Riverview Nursing Home (Elisha Harris–Henry Howard House)

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Elisha Harris–Henry Howard House
c. 1840, c. 1870, c. 1890. 546 Main St. (corner of Potter Ct.)

Christopher Greene located his Queen Anne house adjacent to the grand Greek Revival residence commissioned by the industrialist who founded the town as a major mill center. Elisha Harris's house is as conspicuously set on axis at the top of its sloping lawn as the other is skewed on its site and concealed. Here the three-story central block is flanked by two-story wings. Each of these is topped by a windowed cupola, forcefully cornered by paired piers and capped by a projecting roof. This lavish Greek Revival house underwent some Victorian renovation before Harris's son-in-law, Henry Howard, made major Neo-Colonial alterations, most notably the swelling semicircular porch, which once had a square porch on top of it that formed a belvedere shelter in front of the central window. Rooftop balustrades, like those over the front porch and side bays, once also crowned the upper porch and wings above the second story. The earlier alterations and the barn may be of the same date. Clearly the house was intended to provide multilevel views of a pretty stretch of the Pawtuxet, so much of which these mill owners regarded simply as a commodity. Perpetuating the “Riverview” theme for its own commercial end, the nursing home preserves a decayed ghost of the old image in front, with extensive modern additions behind which incorporate the barn. Even in its present knocked-about state, this house can be appreciated as among the grand Greek Revival efforts in the state, with an equally grand Neo-Colonial finale.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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William H. Jordy et al., "Riverview Nursing Home (Elisha Harris–Henry Howard House)", [Coventry, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-CO4.

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