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Hillel House, Brown University (Froebel Hall)
Nearby is another architectural memento of progressive educational currents of the late nineteenth century. This cottagey ramble, with latticed gables front and rear butting a long wing with what was once a narrow, open-balconied porch, was a pioneer venture in Friedrich Froebel's kindergarten education. Only the second American school (after one in Boston) for training kindergarten teachers, it was specifically inspired by an exhibit at the 1876 Centennial that gave wide publicity to Froebel's emphasis on early education through systematic play. Only two years after the exposition, this whimsical school for kindergarten pedagogy, with facilities for an experimental class, opened here. The demure, intimate, and “artistic” aspects of much Queen Anne architecture made the style ideal for the purpose. (Either kindergarden rumpus or, more likely, subsequent stresses from the use of the building as a dancing school for the East Side elite required the timber bridging with tension rods which now pops through the roof to counteract the sagging floors.) The building now serves as the university's Hillel House. A substantial expansion is planned.
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