Like Providence at the same time, Pawtucket was influenced by late-nineteenth-century visions of the City Beautiful which included public landscape parks as an arcadian escape from Victorian industrial squalor. Slater Park provides a setting for a loose cluster of buildings—pleasant and appropriate rather than architecturally outstanding—around a lake. The John Daggett, Jr., House ( PA32.1; 1685[?]) is the only extant seventeenth-century house in Pawtucket, a fact of more sentimental than architectural interest, because it has been much altered through time, although its “restoration” in 1907 is part of Rhode Island's colonial revival. As with the Betsy Williams House in Providence's Roger Williams Park, its existence here gives a historic dimension to the park and reminds its visitors that through the nineteenth century these urban arcadias existed as relatively large farms extending back to the beginnings of their cities. Their survival at the city's boundaries in the 1890s made the parks possible. A sequence of eighteenth-century additions to the Daggett house brought the original one-room house to two stories and five bays, after which a nineteenth-century wing was added to the rear. Of special interest is the carousel ( PA32.2; c. 1880; set up in Slater Park, 1910), one of two in the state by the important Rhode Island manufacturer Charles I. D. Looff. The other example, in East Providence (see EP22), is more elaborate, and (as this is written) the animals here are crudely painted. The boathouse ( PA32.3), in brick with trellising, is gracefully fitted to its site; but its transformation to a community art gallery deprives the lake of animation. At the far end of the lake is a nicely proportioned reinforced concrete bandstand ( PA32.4; 1917) in the guise of a circular classical garden temple.
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Slater Memorial Park
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