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Paine House (Francis Brayton House)

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Francis Brayton House
1748. 7 Station St., approximately 100 yards from Main St. (owned by the Western Rhode Island Historical Society; open to the public)

Francis Brayton, who originally acquired much farmland in the vicinity, eventually also owned saw-, grist-, and fulling mills in what was then (inevitably) called Braytontown. Above the masonry basement of this now resurfaced house, which is set into a hillside, is a narrow four-bay, two-story shingled front, to which, early on, a saltbox extension was added. Although the basement level has an entrance on the road, it is the stretched-out “side” elevations, where the principal entrances are, that attract attention. These differ radically from one another. The most public side, toward Main Street, aspires to regularity with a fulsome array of windows in two sizes planted across the elevation like rows of corn in an irregularly bounded field. Whereas the tail of the saltbox slope is cleaved at an angle on this side, on the opposite side the saltbox heaves out in an angular billow of shingles as it slopes to the ground. Here windows of three sizes are irregularly scattered around two doors. The warping of conventional imagery by this combination of the odd shaping of the house, the visual tension of openings of various sizes, and the counterpoint between regularity and asymmetry should delight postmodernist sensibilities at the end of the twentieth century—however removed such compositional niceties from the concerns of early occupants.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Paine House (Francis Brayton House)", [Coventry, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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