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Mary Ellis House

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1937–1939, William Wilde. 1629 South County Trail. Not visible

Set back from the road in the woods is one of the few, and one of the best, International Style houses in the state. Architectural Forum published the house in 1939, and Henry-Russell Hitchcock praised it in his survey of Rhode Island architecture, published the same year. Its vertical cypress siding, typical for New England modernist houses after World War II, would appear to date it to c. 1950; but it is a replacement for the original siding of smooth composition board, which weathered badly. Originally, too, the house was wholly one story, except for a second-story artist's studio at its garden end. It has been substantially enlarged for additional bedrooms, probably at the time of the residing. Mary Ellis's fiancé, the painter Albert Gold, and the architect had met when they both lived in the U.S.S.R. Their reunion in America doubtless accounted for Wilde's commission. The substantial alterations have upscaled (and somewhat upset) what must, at the time of completion, have appeared as a more modest and more avant-garde getaway from the New York art scene.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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