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Liberty Street School

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1847, Thomas A. Tefft. 20 Liberty St.

This was only the third high school building constructed in the state, and is the oldest survivor of its type. The linden trees fronting its brick walls make it easy to miss in summer. But it is a forceful, if very functional, statement in Tefft's often used conjunction of the palace image with the pioneering round-arched style, which here provides emphasis for the entrance and its window overhead. The school exhibits Tefft's usual skill in proportioning openings to walls, the windows adorned with projecting sills and hoods in brownstone, the door enframed in a slightly projecting hood.

Tefft's sober buildings usually exhibit some exceptional, if subtle quirks. Here the first of these is a double row of brick moldings to make a decorative band below the bracketed eaves. In the projecting or portal section of the front elevation, they angle upward to follow the line of the gable and avoid collision with the arched window below. The second is the undulant treatment which he frequently employed for very simple bracketing. The stepped profile of the eaves bracketing suggests a ribbon of cloth suspended over two rods to make a stepped effect.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Liberty Street School", [Warren, 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, 462-462.

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