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General Robert E. Patterson House (The Ramparts; Channel Bells)

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The Ramparts; Channel Bells
1888, C. L. Bevins. 27 Newport St.

Preferring a more lyrical designation for their cottage over the military ring that came naturally to General Patterson, the second owners turned from the fort to the melody of its views, resonating on its veranda from the desultory clang of the bell buoys marking the channel approach below. What we see is the boxlike shingled centerpiece rising to a steep hipped roof which, were close inspection possible, would be seen to combine as a very stubby stem with its elongated wings to mass the house overall as an expanded T. On the sea front, however, the deep arch dominates, stretching the length of the house and jutting forward with the center. Even our limited view eveals something of C. L. Bevins's typical deadpan vernacular, in which he subtly inflects the commonplace toward the exceptional shaping of mass, shifts in scale, calculated placement of openings, and the occasional muted trumpet note of some bit of high style. Here the compact fist of the centerpiece, its shape delightfully complicated by minidormers poking from its side slopes, is reticently handled in traditional shingled ways. Accents which would customarily magnify the importance of the centerpiece by occurring in it are displaced to the flanking wings as paired second-story windows which break through the eaves, becoming shed dormers. The placement of these accents off the centerpiece expands its aura, but with the tension which such unexpected displacement brings. Such is Bevins's unobtrusive sophistication, easily missed, but subtly felt.

The entrance to Channel Bells offers a glimpse of an explosion of white paneling marking the staircase beside the entrance, with which Bevins meant to impress the visitor. More fireworks occur in overblown Georgian mantels in its principal interiors (rather more British than colonial in character) where otherwise the effect is of vacation spareness. Like the paneling outside, the mantels within elevate the vernacular Shingle Style toward Neo-Georgian, clearly revealing the stylistic betwixt-and-between of Queen Anne.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "General Robert E. Patterson House (The Ramparts; Channel Bells)", [Jamestown, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-JA26.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 598-598.

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