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Frank B. Lisle House

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1923, Clarke and Howe. 59 Manning St.

Cooke Street and the streets immediately off it provide a fine sampling of the Colonial Revival in Providence, with more developed examples than those on Stimson Avenue. (The entire East Side bears study in this regard, which is impossible here.) This cluster of Neo- Colonial residences dating from 1890 through 1930 exhibits a range of possibilities in the style, from the catch-as-catch-can use of miscellaneous colonial features to quite archaeological approaches.

First, three prepossessing examples of the Colonial Revival, beginning with 66 Cooke Street. The president of a real estate firm commissioned the house from William T. Aldrich, a master of eighteenth-century styles—this example, on the exterior at least, more specifically beholden to English than to French example. High garden walls, plantings, and its sideways siting on the lot combine to obscure the house. At quick glance, it appears to be organized as a typical late colonial New England brick mansion, an elongated rectangular box with central hall front to back and major rooms, two deep, on either side. Yet this is not the case. The massing of the block steps back from its projection as a pedimented entrance. Then it spreads to embrace a corridor at right angles to the entrance axis, with ancillary rooms ranged along it on the side toward the porch, especially for reception. Finally, the block of the house spreads again to embrace the suite of principal entertainment rooms arranged in a line between their successive entrances from the cross hall and openings to a continuous garden terrace beyond. What appears from the front as typical Anglo-American eighteenth-century planning becomes typically French for the climatic rooms and their relationship to the garden—a blend in planning schemes which reflects the popularity in the United States, from the 1880s through the 1930s, of architectural training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts as the finishing touch to professional education. The porch is Federal style of exquisite delicacy (with a glance perhaps at contemporary English Regency, which was especially popular in the 1920s and 1930s, as American architects sought to expand the repertoire of the Federal Revival style, while increasing both its grandeur and its sophistication). The fanlight is a veritable peacock's tail of leaded ornament, which characterizes the revivalist attitude of either outdoing the sources or choosing the most extravagant precedents possible.

Just off Cooke Street on Manning Street are two more sophisticated examples of the Colonial Revival by major early-twentieth-century Providence practitioners: one for the widow of a textile manufacturer, the other for a partner in a brokerage establishment. For number 63, presumably F. Ellis Jackson, as the principal designer in his firm, recalled John Holden Greene's early-nineteenth-century balustraded eaves and fretted monitors in designing the hipped roof. However, the entrance detail derives from the late eighteenth century, while the L-plan interior hall connecting central entrances on two streets is (if not unknown earlier) far more common to post–Civil War houses, as some described earlier make clear. Next door, for number 59, two decades earlier, Wallis Howe (a Providence designer who frequently changed partners) preferred a narrow box to Jackson's fatter massing. This stretches the traditional five-bay colonial front to eleven bays by placing the additional windows in slight projections at the ends which are meant to be seen as wings. At the center, a huge stair window enlivens the regular window rhythms of the conventional colonial front with a touch of Neo-Colonial picturesqueness. Neither double entrance doors nor their deep boxing are at all common in American eighteenth-century residences, although some occur in large English Georgian examples. The inset door does appear in America with the Federal style, but not much before 1810, then infrequently, and rarely doubled—another indication of Colonial Revival tendencies to enrich, enliven, and aggrandize colonial and Federal precedent.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Frank B. Lisle 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, 115-116.

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