In 2001, plans for the construction of a new athletic facility on the Lincoln School campus called for the demolition of both the Dwight House and Nursery Carriage House. According to the proposal, which included fields and a new dance studio, the Nursery Carriage House, a late-nineteenth century barn known as the Beane Barn, would be torn down to provide open space. The 1870 home built for Christopher A. Pierce House and later renamed the Margarethe Dwight House after the school’s founder was to be removed to make way for the dance studio.
The proposed demolition was brought to the attention of the Providence Preservation Society by members of the neighborhood who were outraged at the proposed demolition. It was included on the 2001 Most Endangered Properties list. Both of these buildings are listed as contributing buildings to the Blackstone Park National Register Historic District. The Dwight House, a large 2½-story irregularly massed, weatherboard-clad Second Empire home, maintains much of its original, architectural integrity. Significant architectural details include the houses’ pediment, roof dormers, full-height corner pilasters, and a full-length, 1-story, hip roofed entrance porch with paired and tripled Tuscan columns, a dentil entablature, and a triangular pediment directly above the primary entrance.
The proposal by Lincoln School to demolish the two properties reflects a trend of institutional needs within a historically significant residential neighborhood. Educational institutions in Providence are constantly faced with the need to expand but their historic surroundings often prohibit growth and development.
The City of Providence requires all universities and schools to develop a master plan that outlines the care and future of their buildings; this plan is then reviewed each year by the City Plan Commission. When the Lincoln School presented a master plan that proposed the demolition of these buildings, it created a significant buzz among the school’s neighbors and within the local preservation community. Lincoln representatives met with the PPS planning and architecture review committee (PAR) to discuss the demolition proposal. At a November 2001 public hearing, the community turned out in large numbers to protest the proposed demolition. Lincoln agreed to revise its master plan which was subsequently approved by the Providence Planning Commission in December 2001. Lincoln’s revised plans illustrate the kinds of creative approaches that institutions can employ to meet their needs and satisfy those of its neighbors.
Dwight House is named for Lincoln School’s first student, Margarethe “Daisy” Dwight, the daughter of the School’s founder, also named Margarethe Dwight. Dwight House was purchased by Lincoln from the Ballou Estate in 1943. For the past 60 years, it has served as the venue for multiple academic and administrative purposes. After the house was listed among the PPS “Ten Most Endangered Properties” in 2001, the Lincoln School Board of Trustees developed a plan to save Dwight House, securing its important place in the Lincoln community and its surrounding neighborhood. Restoring this 1870 Mansard-roofed Victorian structure provided Lincoln School with on-campus housing for the Head of School, strengthening the School’s sense of community.
Founded in 1884, Lincoln School was the first independent school for girls in Rhode Island and is the only all-girls Quaker school in the nation.
– 2010 Festival of Historic Houses Guidebook