The handsome school perched above Canal Street may represent William R. Mead's second contribution to his hometown. Completed with great local pride in 1892, it is a finely proportioned, hipped-roof building of local mountain stone and slate. The school has a striking projecting central entrance tower and belfry and fine wood details. According to contemporary accounts, the school committee was united in selecting a design submitted by McKim, Mead, and White of New York City, but the finished building is attributed to Robert Gordon Hardie, a highly regarded portrait painter who had studied in New York and Paris and lived on Canal Street in Brattleboro. The building is executed in the Colonial Revival vocabulary that McKim, Mead and White pioneered, but it has other connections to their contemporary work as well. The semicircular Doric portico (originally balustraded) tied to the tower base with paired pilasters recalls those on the Taylor House in Newport, Rhode Island (1886), and the New York Pavilion at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. The copper-domed belfry is carried on an open colonnade with additional columns pulled out at the corners as a transition to a square base. This motif appeared on the Rhode Island State Capitol (1891–1904). Perhaps Hardie, who is not documented as having any formal association with McKim, Mead and White, served as local supervisor of the work, executing designs provided by the town's famous architect son.
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Canal Street School
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