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Asahel Angell House

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1780. 4 Limerock Rd.

Mounds of clipped yews and a flush in-line addition added in the early nineteenth century interfere with a proper view of this five-bay elevation. Unfortunately, too, the large center chimney is gone. But the elevation is among the finest in the state for its period, and another included in the White Pine Series. As already noted, Smithfield houses based on the same elevational type show differences in character. But for this and the next, let us look more closely, with a backward glance at the Elisha Mowry House.

As in the Mowry House, and typical of eighteenth-century design, the box-framed windows have twelve-over-twelve sash projecting from the plane of the clapboards; also as in the Mowry House, the window tops are aligned with the base of the pediment over the door, and the design has the same vigor and gravity over all and in detail. However, the format of this elevation is grander. Observe the spacing of the openings, which permit a fluctuating view of the arrangement: as an entity of ten openings, or alternatively as a sequence of four-two-four. The molding of the eaves is simple but elegant. It is decisively differentiated from the projecting boxed window frames aligned beneath it. The somewhat attenuated proportions of the windows draw the eyes up and down the elevation, even as they move across the row. The first-story window lintels are subtly shaped, while retaining the sense of the blunt board whence they came. This restrained but decisive shaping and placing of elements extends to the door frame, with its plain broken pediment (no dentils, no modillions) over a spoked fanlight, flanked by plain pilasters. The entrance is slightly pinched in accord with the window proportions. Reticent quoining frames the elevation at both ends. No detail obtrudes as an eye-catching embellishment. The elevation has been deliberated as a whole—not self-consciously, perhaps, but with the intuitive sensibility of the carpenter-designer who maximizes the possibilities inherent in an agreedupon formula.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Asahel Angell House", [Smithfield, 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, 258-259.

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