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A demure little building set back from the street, this is one of the country’s oldest public schools. Providence attempted public education quite early – and unsuccessfully. In its earliest years, this housed a multiple-age school for young children on the first story, while students at today’s Brown University used the second story until the completion of the College Edifice. After 1800 it again served, successfully and continuously, as an elementary school. In the mid-nineteenth century, it was a school for Black students. In 1908 large sections of the second-story walls were removed to convert it into an “open air” school. It served as a school for handicapped children in the mid-twentieth century, and the institution founded here, known as Meeting Street School, remains a pioneer in education. Still owned by the City of Providence, the building has been leased since 1960 to the Providence Preservation Society, which beautifully maintains it.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

Update: In 2013, the Providence Preservation Society purchased the Brick School House from the City of Providence. In 2015, it once again became the headquarters of the Society.

The Old Brick School House has had many lives, all of which influenced the course of education in Providence. PPS is proud to steward such important Providence history. The 2022 project to renovate and update the school house as a home for 21st-century preservation in Providence honors the building’s heritage as a site of education, community, and assembly. 

OBSH Historic Structure Report: a report completed by Myron O. Stachiw in 2014 (large file, 8.6 MG)

Rhode Tour: an excellent tour of Rhode Island’s Black Heritage with a stop describing the Brick School House’s role in educating Providence’s African American children.

February 1960 PPS newsletter article on the acquisition of the Brick School House.

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© 2023 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.