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Dustin Lacey House

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1847; dormers added, 20th century. 65 Benefit St.

These houses represent two aspects of the Greek Revival style. James Bucklin designed the Doric Greek Revival Slater House (so called for its most famous owner; now known as Hallworth House) in the same year as the Arcade. He monumentalized the standard two-story, hip-roofed, brick Federal house in the usual Greek Revival manner, by enlarging and simplifying detail, but here also by emphasizing the blocky mass through tightly grouping the windows toward the center of the elevation around the door, then leaving a stretch of wall separating these from the outermost windows. Finally, and most decisively, the scale and simple geometry of the portico announce this as an unmistakable example of the Greek Revival. Providence appears to have had few such full-blown temple-fronted Greek Revival porticoes. This one is turned sideways to the street, so that the front faces south, as we shall see elsewhere to an unusual degree on Benefit. Although south-facing, rather than road-facing, houses are common among eighteenth-century houses, they are rare in cities. Their orientation recalls the most familiar American example of sideways urban siting, that of houses in Charleston, South Carolina. Because of its textile industry, Rhode Island's connections with southern plantation owners and especially with brokers in Charleston and Savannah were close. Does the sideways siting of a number of houses on College Hill indicate Charleston influence?

Enoch Clarke, the original owner, almost immediately sold the house to John Slater, brother of the famous Samuel Slater, associated with the Pawtucket mill that marked the start of New England's textile industry. A descendent, Horatio N. Slater, who had given Slater Hall to Brown University as a men's dormitory, in 1901 made a gender-neutral gesture worthy of a later day. He gave his own house to Pembroke College (then the women's college of the university) as its first dormitory. Twice enlarged (remodeling by Brown, then extensive further remodeling and downhill additions by the Episcopal church), it serves today as the frontispiece of a home for the elderly. The small, vernacular interpretation opposite, its full “portico” very nearly a “porch,” came from the west side of town in 1976. Charming, it is really too small for the scale and spacing of what is around it.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Dustin Lacey House", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-PR73.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 75-75.

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