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From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:
Aldrich-Dexter Field, consisting of thirty-nine acres within the stone wall along Hope Street, Stimson Avenue, Angell Street, Arlington Avenue, and Lloyd Avenue, was purchased in 1957 as an athletic facility for the University. In 1824, the property, known at the time as the Neck Farm, was left to the city of Providence under the will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter as a poor farm for indigent freemen. The wall around the farm was built in 1835. The Commissioners of the Dexter Donation reported in 1840, “The whole length of the wall is six thousand two hundred and twenty and one-half feet, and contains seven thousand eight hundred and forty cords of stone. It was eight years in being built, and cost twelve thousand six hundred and ninety-nine dollars and eighty-one cents paid for out of the city treasury.” For years the Dexter Asylum served its purpose as a poor farm, sometimes housing 125 persons. At the time of its sale to Brown, there were only eight residents. In 1947 the city petitioned the Superior Court for permission to sell the land and use the proceeds in other ways “to ameliorate the conditions of the poor” as Dexter’s will intended. After lengthy proceedings the sale of the land by sealed bids on September 26, 1957 was authorized. Brown’s offer of $1,000,777 was highest by a quarter of a million dollars. President Keeney explained, “We are aware that many will regard the price paid by us as large, but we wished to pay a price which will give a clear indication of our appreciation of our long and pleasant relations with the City of Providence. We have made an excellent investment for the present and one whose worth will become even more clearly apparent in the future.” The money for the purchase came from unrestricted funds that were available before the start of the University’s $30,000,000 bicentennial development program, which was not affected. Keeney, elated by the purchase, instructed that the bell on University Hall be rung in celebration right after chapel. Then he went fishing. Playing fields for sports other than football were laid out on Aldrich-Dexter Field, and through the years buildings for athletic purposes have been added; Meehan Auditorium, the hockey rink, in 1961; Smith Swim Center in 1972; Olney-Margolies Athletic Center in 1981; and Pizzitola Sports Center in 1989. The baseball field was named Aldrich Field in 1959 in honor of Edward B. Aldrich 1893. The soccer field was named Stevenson Field in 1979 in honor of coach Cliff Stevenson. The whole athletic complex was renamed the Wendell R. Erickson Athletic Complex in 1988.
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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