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Woods–Gerry House

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1860–1863, Richard Upjohn. 1931, entrance and interior reconfiguration; driveway redesign, Fletcher Steele. 62 Prospect St. (first-floor galleries open to the public)
  • Woods–Gerry House (HABS)

Marshall Woods, who married into the Brown family and was active in the affairs of Brown University (eventually as treasurer), was also involved on the building committee for St. Stephen's Church—thus this Upjohn commission. The house, designed in a Neo-Renais-sance style, is probably better known as the residence of Rhode Island's long-time United States senator Peter Goelet Gerry (1917–1929 and 1935–1947). The exterior of the three-story brick building is almost abstract in its reductivist geometry, but with a bowed centerpiece on its east elevation for the handsome new front entrance installed in 1931. Its appearance today somewhat belies the original configuration, with combined pedestrian and vehicular entrance centered on the south elevation. The central stair hall terminates on the north with a transverse stair rising to the east. A row of three rooms (now used for gallery space for student exhibitions), arranged en suite, lined the west side of the building, each communicating directly with the terrace to the west, perhaps the earliest example in Providence of siting a large house on an elevated site to exploit the view to the west. On the east side of the hall are a parlor on the south and the new pedestrian entrance, through a circular vestibule with saucer-dome ceiling; the effect here is of the T- or L-plan hallway system introduced during the mid-years of the nineteenth century, but here a retrofit rather than an original treatment. (Such complex circulation systems were more typically simplified in the mid-twentieth century, as in the James Kimball House [ PR129].) The formal terraced garden, now informally planted, is far more wooded than originally intended.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Woods–Gerry 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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