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 United States.
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, it combines 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 the volume, 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 educational institutions 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 building types 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 of direct 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 clients responsible 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 a state-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.show more