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Jamestown Philomenian Library and Sidney L. Wright Museum of Indian Artifacts

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1971, 1972 (museum), 1993. 26 North Main Rd.

Having combined with another library and grown to the bursting point in a tiny schoolhouse (now handed down to the Jamestown Historical Society), the Philomenian grew to this quite sumptuous state from its humble beginnings beneath a staircase in the Carr Homestead (see entry above). The petite Neo-Colonial “box of books” with its projecting and pedimented door flanked by single windows, typical of the early-twentieth-century village library, has almost invariably been swollen (sometimes swallowed) by late-twentieth-century additions. Here the blowup occurred in the single puff of a new building erected for the library in 1971. The brick box is larger but still intimately low beneath its spreading hipped roof. An arcadelike series of seven arched openings stretches across the front, including its centered door, giving it a degree of grandeur beyond that attainable in the earlier format. Its “colonial” allusion is abstracted in accord with modernist sensibility. The ambiguities inherent in the design reveal the architect's effort to strike a balance between village character and the larger public image that so substantial an institution wants to project.

The library has already acquired an addition in the museum given by Catherine Wright to honor her husband's interest in Native American culture and their joint funding in the 1960s of an archaeological dig at a local site that yielded a trove of Narragansett and pre-Narragansett artifacts. A large addition and renovation was added in 1993, tripling the square footage of the library while unfortunately reorienting a new entrance toward a parking lot.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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