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Avondale Village

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A substantially intact village stretched along a U-configurated road system, Avondale retains a number of nineteenth-century buildings and some lingering sense of the mixture of agriculture, fishing, and the boatyard crafts which traditionally characterized such tidewater villages. The original eighteenth-century owner of the land in the area recovered from bankruptcy by parceling his lands and disposing of them by a lottery, commemorated in the original name of the village and in Lottery House ( WE8.1; c. 1840), a delicately scaled Greek Revival house at 15 Avondale Road. The more vigorous, gable-ended Greek Revival Captain Palmer Hall House, India Point ( WE8.2; 1840), at the end of India Point Road, enlarged by extensive later additions, includes a mid-nineteenth-century barn. The Greek Revival Avondale Chapel ( WE8.3; 1852), at 13 Avondale Road, has all the basic elements set out with utmost clarity: door with side lights and molded cap; gable as pediment; unadorned cupola; tall, slotlike windows along the sides. The house at Avondale Farm ( WE8.4), 2 Avondale Road, is a gaunt but forceful two-and-one-half-story, five-bay, central-entrance type, except that the second story of the north elevation, now the facade, contains only three windows. As it appears today, it is actually a vernacular Colonial Revival editing away of extensive Victorian additions (only vernacular Greek Revival entrance frames remain) to an eighteenth-century farmhouse. Fields to one side were lost to large-house development, but the fields to the south were donated to a land trust and remain open as a fine setting for this house. The tapered cobblestone wall in front of the farmhouse is of a type common around Westerly, and worth mention in a state famous for its stone walls. It is generously mortared in a Mediterranean manner, with conical posts at openings. (Another example in Avondale exists across from Lottery House.) These are the work of a Westerly mason active in the mid-twentieth century, Sam Nardone, who brought Italian techniques, together with indefatigable enterprise, to the area. So rarely can one trace the source of such local building quirks that it is a pleasure to record this instance, especially since Italian and Portuguese touches, especially in masonry and stylized gardens using gravel and flagging instead of grass, are pervasive ethnic components in Rhode Island building.

Also at Avondale Road and Champlin Drive, across from the fork, a summer residence that was formerly School Number 3 and then Westerly Grange Number 8 ( WE8.5; 1873, later additions to the rear) presents an exceptional front for its original use: a door with projecting hood topping a flight of stairs, squeezed by flanking windows with gabled lintels and, above, a fanlight separated in a floating way from all the rest. It is an interesting example of disparate elements and the tensions created (however unconsciously) by pushing them together or pulling them apart.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Avondale Village", [Westerly, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WE8.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 408-408.

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