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Mount Vernon Tavern

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c. 1760, c. 1814. 199 Plainfield Pk.

When Pardon Holden purchased this two-and-one-half-story, five-bay, central-chimney house for a tavern in 1814, he added the ell, a bar on the first floor of the original house, and the pretty entrance porch. The hood roof of the porch with ceiling arched to echo the curve of the fanlight compares to that of the Paine-Bennett Farm ( FO16) and ultimately probably also derived from the Union Village type. Were the two porches by the same master? The Mount Vernon version is classically more correct, its ornament more severe in comparison with the rather ebullient, sketchy quality of that of its neighbor. The indication of capitals on these post-like columns is handled with greater sophistication, while the addition of rosettes, a keystone over the door, and Ionic (rather than rudimentary Doric) pilasters also lead to the same conclusion. Hence it seems likely that this may have been the inspiration, which the other two Foster porches in this manner ( FO16 and FO5) progressively countrified. Whereas spoked arrows were ordered from the catalog of lead designs for the nearby fanlight, here it was garlands.

The ell later functioned as a general store and after 1828 as a post office. The tavern also housed (in the upstairs front west chamber) the Mount Vernon Bank during its first year of operation. Holden was one of the original six petitioners for the bank and was its second president from 1828 until his death in 1831. The enterprising Holden also operated a plow manufactory on his property. Both the foundry and the bank eventually moved to Providence, in 1850 and 1853 respectively. There the foundry metamorphosed from the High Street Foundry to the Builders Iron Foundry (B.I.F.), which played an important role in the casting and fabrication of custom metal design for buildings throughout southern New England until it was swallowed up in a conglomerate takeover during the 1960s. Finally, another owner, George Fry, ran a printing press in the southeast parlor, before this center of village commercial activity settled down to becoming a residence pure and simple in 1888.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Mount Vernon Tavern", [Foster, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-FO19.

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