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The congregation that worships here began as a separatist group from the Congregationalists on the east side of the Providence River; they built their first house of worship here in 1743. This building, dating from 1809 (Bernard Eddy and John Newman architect/builders), was remodeled into its present guise in 1836 (Tallman & Bucklin, architects), with some later interior re-working. The almost square-plan building exerts a strong presence on the street, thanks to the knoll atop which it stands and to the curve of Weybosset Street to the east, which nicely frames it from a distance. The building’s overall configuration (two-story front porch, hemispherical dome with lantern) did not change in the 1836 remodeling, but Tallman & Bucklin replaced delicate Federal details with gustier Greek Revival trim, including the powerful Doric columns of the porch, the paneled parapet, and the paneled octagonal drum. Atop the dome, the overscaled lantern looks back to the fourth century B.C.E. Choragic Monument to Lysicrates, a favorite source for Greek Revival designers. (Bucklin repeated the quotation for a funerary sculpture in Swan Point Cemetery.) In the interior, the space is even more surprising than St John’s or First Unitarian, for here, beneath the prominent dome, is a slightly coved ceiling that makes no response to the dramatic dome above.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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© 2023 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.