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Bell Commercial Block

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1899. 345 Main St.
  • (Dexter Ennis Keegan)

Diagonally across the street from Kenyon's Department Store, Louis F. Bell built his Queen Anne store and office block, infilling its yellow brick piers with rambunctious bay windows stamped from copper sheet metal. This late nineteenth-century fervor for picturesque (as well as functional) bays (and for boastful lettering) is countered by elegant swags, panels, and a scroll pediment as signs of the nascent Neoclassical Revival. The unusual preservation and restoration of the storefronts to an approximation of their original character completes the picture of first-class commercial accommodations for Main Street in 1900. The post office once occupied one of the stores. Exceptionally, but more frequently then than now for such buildings in small towns, the top floor was originally given over to a hall—this one for dancing, roller skating, and even school graduations. The adjacent mansarded Sheldon Block (c. 1875), originally at another site on Main Street, was moved next to the Bell Block and raised one story by the insertion of storefronts. The same family has maintained it as a furniture store down to the present.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Bell Commercial Block", [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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