Grand Buildings

Washington Square is home to grand buildings, each a character in its own right.
With elegant houses lining the streets around the square, the Colony House at its eastern end and the Brick Market at its western end, the original parade ground became an urban space of civic splendor and public festivity.

Slideshow images above: Rhode Island Photograph Collection, Providence Public Library

Enlightened Architect

Portrait of Peter Harrison Louis Sands, copied from ca. 1756 portrait by Nathaniel Smibert. (Redwood Library and Athenaeum)

Peter Harrison’s architecture is noted for its classical harmony and restraint. Armed with one of the finest architecture libraries in the colonies, he endowed Washington Square with one of its great landmarks in the Brick Market (1762). This was one of the final grand gestures of Newport’s 18th century commercial and cultural splendor on the square. The location for this building was entrepreneurial rather than aesthetic. Within easy reach of Long Wharf and the Thames street commercial quarter, it was perfectly situated as an economic nexus. Harrison designed a sophisticated version of a Palladian town palace with an arcaded first level topped by monumental two story half columns in the Ionic style.

This project is made possible by the generous support of Elizabeth "Lisette" Prince and the Buchanan Burnham Endowment for Visiting Scholars.  All images are from the collections of the Newport Historical Society unless otherwise noted.