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Immediately south of Swan Point is a contemporary institution similar set in an isolated location as a response to its function. Founded as Butler Hospital for the Insane, it sited its picturesque main building (Tallman & Bucklin, but likely designed by the young Thomas A. Tefft, then in their employ) within an artfully irregular landscape, the first Providence commission for Horace W.S. Cleveland. Butler Hospital consultant Dr Luther V. Bell, Superintendent of the Somerville, Massachusetts, McLean Asylum for the Insane, suggested the Tudor Gothic employed here for its appropriateness to the site and to the building’s program. Medical theory contemporary with the hospital’s founding held that removing individuals deprived of reason from stressful everyday settings, increasingly perceived as exacerbated by the pace of industrialization and urbanization, and placing them in an attractive, peaceful, and orderly environment was highly conducive to recovery. Center House, itself unfortunately fronted with an awkward modern addition in the 1970s, set an architectural tone for the later buildings casually but calculatedly sited around Center House from the 1860s through the first decade of the twentieth century.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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