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Nicholson House

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Francis W. Goddard–Samuel C. Nicholson House
1878, Stone and Carpenter. 1991, fire stair tower, Clifford M. Renshaw. 71 George St.

Two brothers from a long-established and wealthy Providence family once occupied these adjacent houses. From their mother, Charlotte Rhoda Ives Goddard, William (son of William Giles Goddard) inherited the three-story, late Federal house in red brick with graystone trim. Francis was given a frame house on the property next door, which the family also owned. About the same time each turned to the same architecture firm. William chose to enlarge his heirloom; Francis to demolish and start over.

The mansarded Goddard-Nicholson House employs its polychromatic mix of stone, hard brick, slate, and wood to make a new image for the late-nineteenth-century house based on structural expression and the use of materials for their inherent textures and color, with medieval-inspired ornament. Among the finest examples in the city of the kind of Victorian Gothic associated with Ruskinian principles, the style is very rare on College Hill, where most preferred at the time to play it safe with the colonial and early national past by extending its format and ornamental forms to the Italianate palazzo. The Goddard-Nicholson House also contains interesting original fireplaces, woodwork, and appurtenances, but as scattered remnants rather than restoration. During most of the first half of the twentieth century Samuel C. Nicholson, president of the Nicholson File Company, lived here; hence the name Brown University has given to the house in its current use as administrative offices.

At 47–49 George Street (corner of Megee Street) is a fairly plain brick Italianate duplex, the Seth Adams, Jr., Houses, now a department building owned by Brown University (1852–1854, Richard Upjohn). At the time Upjohn was building a house for Adams (now demolished), and this was an investment property. A luxury duplex, it initially attracted an elite bachelor clientele.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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