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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

President’s House

The President’s House built in 1770 was a two-and-a-half story house situated to the northwest of the College Edifice. A plaque just inside the 1872 Gate on Prospect Street commemorates its location. In 1840 a new president’s house was erected on land donated by Nicholas Brown at the corner of Prospect and College Street (the present site of the John Hay Library) at a cost of $7000, which had been raised by subscription along with the funds for the building of Rhode Island Hall. The first President’s House was moved down College Street to land owned by Charles Potter, where it stood on the north side in a block of adjoining houses until 1936, when the Rhode Island School of Design building was erected there. The second President’s House was a two-story house measuring 46 by 37 feet with an octagonal projection in front, forming a vestibule, with the front entrance covered by an Ionic portico, eight by seven feet. There was a lower two-story addition at the rear, twenty-one by eighteen feet, and an attached wood-house, eighteen by seventeen feet. The builders were Tallman and Bucklin. The house was completed in time for President Wayland’s usual levee on Commencement evening, September 3, 1840. In 1854 a brick barn was built for the use of the president on Prospect Street at the rear of the University Grammar School lot. After the departure of President Andrews in 1898, the house was not occupied by the president. A year later it was already called the “old Presidential Mansion,” when it was fixed up to provide temporary housing for students who had been displaced by the fire in Maxcy Hall on February 9, 1899. The house was used as the “Brown University Cooperative Refectory” until it was torn down in 1908 for the building of the John Hay Library, at which time a new refectory was opened in a house at the corner of Waterman and Thayer Street, where Mrs. Hewitt kept a boarding house and board was four dollars a week.

In 1900 the Brown Alumni Monthly announced, “The old President’s house has become unsuitable for a family, since the cable cars have turned College Hill into a railroad.” A new house for the president was built in 1901 at 180 Hope Street. It was of red brick with white wood and marble trimmings and green blinds. An elaborate central porch led to a large reception hall. On the first floor there was a large drawing room, from which opened a secluded study for the president. Halfway up the stairway the university seal was displayed in stained glass. The house was designed by Hoppin and Ely, and built by the firm of Thomas Gilbane and Brother.

The present President’s House was designed by William T. Aldrich and built in 1922 as the home of Rush Sturges. Finding the house too large for their needs after their children were grown, Mr. and Mrs. Sturges sold the house to Brown in 1947 at a price which represented a substantial donation in memory of Mrs. Sturges’ father, Rowland Gibson Hazard 1876. The brick house has a three-story center flanked by two two-story wings. After the acquisition of the new house, the president’s house on Hope Street was used by the Department of Physics and renamed Barus Hall in 1953. It was razed for the erection of the Barus-Holley Building.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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