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Shakespeare's Head

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1772. 21 Meeting St.

The schoolhouse, remarkably persisting from the late eighteenth century, although remodeled several times, was adapted in the early 1960s for use by the Providence Preservation Society as its headquarters, shortly after a group of concerned “East Siders” banded together in 1956 to save College Hill from threats of demolition by institutional landlords and urban renewal. From this nucleus and its limited concern has emerged the core of citizen preservation efforts in the city today and its larger concern, to save Providence.

Across the street, “Shakespeare's Head,” also occupied (in part) by the society, survives with few alterations. As a three-story wood-frame building, of its scale, at least, it is unusual for eighteenth-century Providence. John Carter published the Providence Gazette, sold books, and handled town mail here, “at the sign of Shakespeare's Head.” Although it was founded in 1762 on Main Street as Providence's first newspaper by another editor, Carter took over in 1768, and the paper became strongly abolitionist. His presses occupied the basement; his office, the first story; and his living quarters, the second and third stories. Hence the unusual presence of more elaborate woodwork on the second story, where the family parlors were located, instead of the first. To the east side and rear of Shakespeare's Head is a “colonial” garden with plants typical for the period.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Shakespeare's Head", [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, 70-70.

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