Henry Merritt Wriston, Brown’s president from 1937 to 1955, was largely responsible for initiating the university’s transformation from a regional college to a world-class institution. He envisioned this residential quadrangle in the years immediately following World War II, when campuses were inundated with students, their numbers swelled by returning servicemen taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. As the school had done when renovating University Hall just before the war, it turned to Boston’s Perry, Shaw & Hepburn for the design of this megablock complex, which required the demolition and occasionally removal of early and mid-nineteenth-century houses. The architects, best known for their restoration work in Williamsburg, Virginia (largely funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr, Class of 1897), designed the three-story interlocking blocks, not surprisingly in the style of Upper Tidewater Virginia. The concentration of a significant number of students in a relatively small area creates a strong sense of university community, as a stroll through from Thayer to Brown Streets during the warmer months will immediately confirm. Style, siting, and scale work surprisingly well here, in this centrally located residential quadrangle as a valediction for one of the school’s ablest leaders.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture