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Woonsocket Courthouse (Former)

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1896, William R. Walker and Son. 24 Front St. (corner of Court St.)

This former courthouse is another public building by the Walker dynasty, whose members must have spent half their professional lives wooing politicians. Or it may be fairer to say that they understood how to serve the architectural ambitions of cities like Woonsocket by designing small-scale versions of big-city civic buildings, albeit in somewhat retardataire styles. By this date, classicism had become the sign of progressive institutions, and in civic buildings elsewhere, the Walker firm had tried its hand at the new style. The shift in taste toward classicism is here limited to some details of the courthouse porch and the columns in its tower loggia. Yet even they accord with the Richardsonian character of the design as a whole. In the Walkers' accomplished version of the style, a well-proportioned tower acts as a vertical anchor at the fold of the L-shaped, hip-roofed mass, between the curved termination of the courtrooms toward the rear and the dormered front. Banding in lighter stone links these quarryfaced volumes together. Inside, the original, plainly handled wooden paneling in courtrooms and stairs is unexpectedly modest given the pomp and massiveness promised outside.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Woonsocket Courthouse (Former)", [Woonsocket, 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, 228-228.

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