This memorial to William Clarke Sayles (1855-1876), Class of 1878, provided the university’s first large assembly hall. In form it shows an immediate and somewhat provincial response to H.H. Richardson’s recently completed Trinity Church in Boston. Originally planned in brick, as seen in Alpheus Morse’s original drawings for the building, it was realized in rock-face granite, like Trinity. It lacks the power of Richardson’s massing and the mastery of his detail. But the strong frontality of the building enables it to command its site and to give a strong presence to the “back” row of buildings on the green.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture