Cover image for Buildings of Rhode Island
Buildings of Rhode Island
Jordy, William H.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Oxford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 704 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Introduction -- Providence -- Providence periphery -- Northeast -- Northwest -- Mid-state -- South -- East Bay -- Islands.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA730.R5 J67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union: slightly more than 1,200 square miles, 14 percent of which is taken up by the waters of Narragansett Bay. Yet this tiny enclave contains one of the richest concentrations of important historical architecture to be found anywhere in the UnitedStates. Buildings of Rhode Island, the ninth volume in the Society of Architectural Historians' Buildings of the United States series, is a guide to this heritage. Covering the state's thirty-nine cities and towns in some 900 building entries accompanied by approximately 330 illustrations and 55 maps, itcombines the comprehensive approach that is a hallmark of the series with a special perspective on Rhode Island's built environment. It is one of the last works of esteemed historian of American architecture William H. Jordy, edited and updated by two of his collaborators and contributors for thevolume, Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. lThe volume covers not only Rhode Island's most important architecture, but also a substantial selection of lesser structures chosen for their distinction or uniqueness. It traces the legacy of nineteenth-century industrialists from their Providence mansions to the cultural and educationalinstitutions they financed to the mills that generated their fortunes to the communities that they built (and in some cases designed) for their workers. Extensive entries on Newport's civic buildings and palatial "cottages" follow finely tuned comparisons among examples of modest vernacular buildingtypes found in villages and rural areas throughout Rhode Island. The book also tours the lighthouses, coastal fortifications, and summer enclaves of the Ocean State. The individual entries of Buildings of Rhode Island accumulate as a compelling narrative rooted in William Jordy's years of intimate association with the state and its architecture. Rich in substance, luminous and lucid in insights, his observations also have a lively immediacy that gives a sense ofdirect encounter with the buildings. We experience their qualities as though standing before the building, then moving around it and sometimes through it. In such a compact territory, fascinating interrelationships among building histories, including links among the architects and clientsresponsible for the state's building heritage, are especially evident. THE BUILDINGS OF THE UNITED STATES SERIES Sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians, Buildings of the United States is a series that the New York Times called "one of the most ambitious in publishing history." This is the ninth volume to be published; the full series will include fifty-eight volumes, organized on astate-by-state basis, that together will serve as a valuable resource for scholarship in American architectural history, teaching, preservation, and urban planning and as an indispensable guidebook for general readers interested in their architectural surroundings.

Author Notes

William H. Jordy, University Professor of Art, Brown University (Emeritus). Ronald J. Onorato, Honors Professor of Art, University of Rhode Island, Kingston. William McKenzie Woodward, Architectural Historian, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Rhode Island may the second smallest US state, but its architecture has loomed large and has attracted some of our most important historians, including Norman Isham, Albert Brown, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Antoinette Downing, and Vincent Scully. This volume, ninth in the 58-volume "Buildings of the United States" series undertaken by the Society of Architectural Historians, is the fruitful product of three authors who have contributed so much to our knowledge of the state's architecture. Originally undertaken by William H. Jordy, a distinguished architectural historian at Brown University, and completed after his death by Onorato (art, Univ. of Rhode Island) and Woodward (architectural historian, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission), Buildings of Rhode Island is an important addition to the series, whose objective is to present useful guidebooks and state-of-the-art scholarship. This book accomplishes both goals remarkably well: the research and documentation by the authors and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission is exemplary. Buildings combines strong contextual information (in the introduction and chapter head notes) and some of the last writings of Jordy (one of the pioneers of American architectural history) with remarkable detail in the description of neighborhoods, buildings, and architects. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. D. Schuyler Franklin & Marshall College