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Warren Town Hall

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1890–1894, William R. Walker and Son. 1939. 1971, interior alteration, William M. O'Rourke. 514 Main St.

This is one of many public buildings, including several town halls, for which this politically astute firm managed to garner throughout the state. Gusto in overall effect rather than nicety of detail characterizes Walker's work. This brick block rises to a precipitous pyramidal roof which is cleaved by the entrance tower. Before the 1938 hurricane the tower was even higher, incorporating an open stage topped by a parapet and a clock face on each of the segments of its still extant melon dome, which now has a slightly reconfigured mini-cupola topping. One detail worth noting is the large ornamental terra-cotta plaque over the arched entrance, a hallmark of Walker's design at this time, in which the building identification competes with florid plant life. A bust of the sachem Massasoit pokes through the leafage, above a fluttering ribbon inscribed “Sowams,” the Wampanoag settlement that preceded Warren. In other panels between the first- and second-story windows are garlands with more fluttering ribbons, loosely executed, with considerable verve, and remote from the classical gravitas of the impending Renaissance Revival, to which Walker's Victorianism alludes without much understanding. The cannon in front, named Pallas and Tantae and cast in France early in the eighteenth century, were captured from the British at the surrender of General Burgoyne. They came to Warren in appreciation of services rendered by the town's artillery during the Dorr Rebellion.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Warren Town Hall", [Warren, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WN14.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 459-460.

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