Founded through the efforts of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence’s Bishop John Harkins, this is the only Dominican Order college in the country. Largely contained on an irregular forty-six-acre campus generally bounded east and west by Huxley and River Avenues and north and south by Admiral and Eaton Streets, the school expanded in the late twentieth century to the east of Huxley Avenue through the acquisition and development of buildings and grounds formerly comprising Charles V. Chapin Hospital. This commanding hillside site is home to several buildings of interest. Taking marvelous advantage of this site, the campus’s earliest buildings were originally country houses built circa 1855 for prosperous Providence businessmen and politicians, William Bailey and Charles S. Bradley. Thomas Tefft, the architect for Bradley’s house (the architect for Bailey is unknown but long thought to be Tefft as well), closely followed the design of Richard Upjohn’s Edward King House (1845-47) in Newport. The college’s main building, Bishop Harkins Hall, was also its first. Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style so popular in the second and third decades of the twentieth century, thanks to the work of James Gamble Rogers at Yale and Northwestern, Harkins Hall (Matthew Sullivan, architect) is a rare example of this architectural trend in Providence. It enjoys a dramatic situation at the terminus of an axis extending diagonally from the northeast corner of River Avenue and Easton Street. The building’s strong central entrance pavilion is flanked by wings that angle forward to enclose and reinforce the terminus of the entrance axis. By the time of the construction of Aquinas Hall, somewhat removed to the east from Harkins and not particularly related to it spatially, Modernism had been married to Gothic. Architect Oresto DiSaia’s design with ample windows and buttressed walls, has suffered somewhat from remodeling in the late twentieth century. Only the use of brick similar in color to that of Harkins and Aquinas links Albertus Magnus Hall (1947; John F. Hogan, architect) with its predecessors. Admirers of Brutalist architecture will certainly want to look at Phillips Memorial Library (1969; Sasaki, Dawson and Demay, architects), a reinforced-concrete-and-brick building that continues the use of similar building materials.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture