The brick market, designed by Joseph Brown, was originally two stories high and provided a space for the sale of fish, meat, and produce in an open first story and the town hall on the second. The third story was added to accommodate a Masonic hall in 1797. The construction of Market House, like that of other contemporaneous buildings included in this tour, signaled Providence’s emergence as a significant colonial urban center. About ten years earlier, Newport, the wealthier and larger settlement at the southern end of the colony, had built an elaborate market house prominently sited at its town center; this is smaller and less elaborate but certainly reflected Providential ambition. It continued to serve as town hall, then city hall, until the construction of City Hall. It then housed the Providence Board of Trade, predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce. Since the late 1930s, when it was completely rehabilitated by John Hutchins Cady, it has housed classrooms for Rhode Island School of Design.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture