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Friends Meeting House

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1881. 108 Smithfield Rd.

John Arnold and other Quakers in the vicinity of Union Village erected the first religious building in northern Rhode Island on this site (then on Great Road) in 1721. It burned in the early 1880s, and this is its replacement. Plain for its period, it appears to be at least twenty or thirty years older than it is. But compared to the even more modest mien of earlier meeting houses, this one is unusual in Rhode Island for the scale of its windows and especially for the bold projection of its almost flat-roofed, sparely braced and bracketed shelter over the entrance. This assertiveness is countered by a certain gentleness in the sheltering quality of the hood over the pyramid of granite stairs and in the restrained handling of even the most Victorian aspects of the design. The delicacy of molding for cornice, paneling of corner boards, and the gentled labels is positively un-Victorian, as is the taut linearity of the window sash. Quaker decorum holds Victorian ostentation in check. An unprepossessing cemetery is gathered around the building. Opposite, Union Cemetery serves the village. Between them they contain graves extending back to the early settlement of this place and through the generations who subsequently inhabited it.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Friends Meeting House", [Woonsocket, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 241-241.

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