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The country’s first contextual museum of American decorative arts, Pendleton House displays a collection of furniture, pottery, and silver that first began to be assembled in the last quarter of the nineteenth century by Charles L. Pendleton (1846-1904), making it one of the earliest such collections. Pendleton bequeathed the collection to RISD’s Museum with the provision that a building to house it be erected. Ironically, Pendleton died immediately after the agreement was reached. The house itself, a gift of S.O. Metcalf, was designed by Edmund R. Willson of Stone, Carpenter & Willson. Its exterior recalls the Federal architecture both of Providence (like the Beckwith House around the corner) and of Willson’s native Salem, Massachusetts. The interior is based quite closely on the house Pendleton inhabited while he assembled his collection, the Edward Dexter House at 72 Waterman Street, although here the plan is reversed. Soon after its completion, the building was connected through a small pavilion (1906; Charles A. Platt) on its north side to the galleries built at the rear of RISD’s Waterman Building. The building was renovated in the late 1990s by Haynes/de Boer Associates.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.