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Frank Mauran, Jr., House

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1929, Edmund Gilchrist. 137 Grotto Ave.

A family from Philadelphia called in a Philadelphia architect for this house. Set within a gently sloping bowl, the Mauran House recalls a vignette from old brick-built streets left behind. It appears as a large Neo-Federal house with powerfully massed paired chimneys at either end, flanked by a stable in the same style and a smaller, “colonial” building. It is exquisitely placed within its landscape and beautifully crafted. Once more the hoary five-bay, two-story, center-door arrangement; but it appears allusively in a split six-bay variant. Thus four bays go to the main block (with two windows, instead of the usual one, over the entrance portal), with the balancing two to complete the conventional arrangement out of alignment in the wing. This wing, in turn, masquerades as a smaller, more vernacular house of earlier date butted to the formal centerpiece, just as ancient houses often jostled newcomers in Philadelphia's old streets. The result is picturesqueness as the Colonial Revival liked it, with variety of massing incorporating seeming differences of period. There are also such typical Colonial Revival exaggerations of shape and scale as the outsized fanlight with its splendidly elaborated lead ornamentation, which may take its cue from frequent Philadelphia lavishness in this respect, but goes precedent one better. Such sophisticated and mannered playfulness anticipates the subtlety and wit in compositions of the most creative designers in the subsequent postmodern generation of colonial revivalists, but with less irony and more quality. The principal entertainment rooms are ranged along the back of the house en filade, opening onto a garden terrace.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Frank Mauran, Jr., 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, 120-121.

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