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Jackson, Robertson & Adams’s greatest gift to the City of Providence is this magnificent building that deftly accomplishes so many things at once. It enshrines with consummate dignity the judicial branch of state government within a commanding presence rendered in the red-brick, stone-trimmed Georgian vocabulary so closely associated with the republic’s early years. Yet it defers gracefully to the small-scale buildings that surround it by deflecting its extraordinary mass through artful fragmentation into visually digestible units that recombine into a dramatic crescendo of tall clock tower thrusting heavenward. The South Main Street elevation with its Guastavino-tile ceiling nicely holds the street line while helping to add to the careful fragmentation of overall mass. Together with the RISD Museum down the street and the College Building (2 College Street), this forms one of the earliest and most accomplished examples of architectural contextualism anywhere, created, ironically enough, at a time when such was not even an identifiable concept, let alone an attitude deemed admirable, as the country’s design professionals were beginning to embrace Modernism. The interior is fine Federal Revival, well detailed and well crafted, from restroom to courtroom. The quality of design and construction in the Providence County Court House, especially in contrast to those in the legion of recent public buildings, reveals the greater esteem with which our forebears regarded themselves and their fellow citizens.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.