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Downtown’s last privately financed, large-scale, speculative office building was erected, appropriately enough, the year that federal income tax began to eat away at the vast fortunes that financed such ventures. Built by the Brown Land Co, it outstripped the Union Trust Co as Downtown’s tallest building, a distinction it held until completion of the Biltmore Hotel. New York architects Howells & Stokes clearly had in mind Daniel Burnham’s Flatiron Building, erected in 1902 at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue on Manhattan’s Madison Square, but this is a shorter, simpler, and set on a wider angle than its New York model. In the early nineteenth century, shopkeeper Jacob Whitman mounted a ship’s figurehead of an Ottoman above his establishment, “at the sign above the Turk’s Head,” and this intersection has been known as such ever since. The figurehead disappeared in a storm, and this building, with its stone effigy of a Turk’s head above the third story, reunited image and name.

– 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.