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Wakefield Post Office (Former)

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1934–1936, Albert Harkness. 220 Robinson St. (just off Main St.)
  • (Dexter Ennis Keegan)

The former post office is a good example of New Deal Federal Revival design in brick with stone trim. Located, inconveniently for the postal service, on a side street with no on-site parking, it closed in the mid-1990s, and its services were removed to a nearby shopping center with ample free parking. More familiar than the building itself is an often reproduced mural by Ernest Hamlin Baker, Economic Activities in the Days of the Narragansett Planters, which was originally installed here in the lobby. It features heroic images of the contributions of African slaves to the economy of the Narragansett Planters—although these appear, by now, intolerably complacent. In the center, a black man controls a rearing Narragansett Pacer; others stack bales, drive an ox team and hold a lantern for crewmen rowing in from a sailing ship, while the whites assume supervisory roles. (Baker made his mark as the long-time artist for the realistic portraits which once adorned the covers of Time magazine.) Happily, the mural is now reinstalled at the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society ( SK35), where it can be interpreted more fully in a setting that reflects its Colonial Revival tone.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Wakefield Post Office (Former)", [South Kingstown, 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, 379-379.

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