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Admissions Office, Brown University (George Corliss House)

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George Corliss House
1878, George Corliss. 2000–2002, exterior and interior restoration, Durkee, Brown, Viveiros and Werenfels. 45 Prospect St.
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)
  • (Photograph by Apavlo)
  • (Photograph by Dietrich Neumann)

George Corliss was internationally famous as an inventor and manufacturer of steam engines. The huge Corliss engine which powered the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia was among the event's most popular and awesome attractions. In the mid-1870s, doctors informed Corliss that his young hypochondriacal second wife must winter in Bermuda. A busy man who thought he could ill afford the indolence of this remedy, Corliss replied, “I will build a Bermuda for Mrs. Corliss.” This house was that Bermuda, as functionally advanced for its time as it was stylistically retardataire. A subterranean porte-cochere, thermostatically controlled radiant heating and cooling system, hydraulic elevator, direct tap in the dining room to an artesian well, and concealed sliding insect screens were all incorporated into this austere, towering Italianate villa, a rigid interpretation of a picturesque form introduced nearly forty years earlier. When it was built, another, similar Italianate villa existed opposite, creating a twintowered approach to an important residential street, where now most of the survivors have been converted to professional offices. Some interior woodwork and fireplaces remain after conversion to offices.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Admissions Office, Brown University (George Corliss House)", [Providence, 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, 104-104.

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