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East Greenwich Town Hall (Kent County Courthouse; East Greenwich State House)

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Kent County Courthouse; East Greenwich State House
1804, Oliver Wickes, builder. 1908–1909, remodeled, William R. Walker and Son. 1993–1995, addition, William Kite Architects. 127 Main St.

Commandingly sited on a hill above Main Street, the former State House is located near the geographic center of the village of East Greenwich at the intersection of what were the village's principal thoroughfares, King and Main streets. One of five state houses in different towns which were originally used in rotation, this is comparable to the Colony House in Newport ( NE6) in marking the end of an axis from the middle of the town to the waterfront. Its form draws heavily on the example of the Newport building as well as the Old State House in Providence: a high sandstone basement, a pedimented center pavilion framing the principal entrance, and a centrally located cupola. But here the building is rendered in clapboard, and the Wren Baroque detail of the mid-eighteenth century has been supplanted by the more delicate Federal forms of the early nineteenth century. The building was used as a state house for Rhode Island's peripatetic government only through the 1850s. Its most remarkable interior is the original two-story Assembly Room. It is extraordinarily short for its width, with the axis from the entrance to speaker's platform at center across the narrow dimension. In an ingeniously provincial manner, Oliver Wickes crossed the width of the room at every window with a steep plaster vault, giving the ceiling a deeply scalloped effect. A nice paneled backdrop with scroll capping contributes to the speaker's (judge's) dignity. Very little used after the county court moved to new quarters, it was turned over to the Town of East Greenwich and converted to the Town Hall. A large addition to the rear, which provides a second principal entrance on Peirce Street, hovers somewhere between contextual and postmodern.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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