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John Brown House (Providence, Rhode Island) facts for kids

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John Brown House
John Brown House, Providence 4.jpg
The building in 2020
John Brown House (Providence, Rhode Island) is located in Rhode Island
John Brown House (Providence, Rhode Island)
Location in Rhode Island
John Brown House (Providence, Rhode Island) is located in the United States
John Brown House (Providence, Rhode Island)
Location in the United States
Location 52 Power St., Providence, Rhode Island
Area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Built 1786/1788
Architect Joseph Brown
Architectural style Georgian
Part of College Hill Historic District (ID70000019)
NRHP reference No. 68000007
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 24, 1968
Designated NHL November 24, 1968
Designated NHLDCP November 10, 1970

The John Brown House is the first mansion built in Providence, Rhode Island, located at 52 Power Street on College Hill where it borders the campus of Brown University. The house is named after the original owner, one of the early benefactors of the University, merchant, statesman, and slave trader John Brown. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968. John Quincy Adams considered it "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent."


The building was designed by John Brown's brother Joseph, an amateur architect who had also designed the First Baptist Church in America. It was built between 1786 and 1788. Notable guests during this time include George Washington, who is reported to have visited for tea.

The house was sold in 1901 to Rhode Island industrialist and banker Marsden J. Perry. Perry renovated the extension to add in modern bathrooms and central heating systems. John Nicholas Brown purchased it in 1936. In 1942, the Brown family donated the house to the Rhode Island Historical Society for preservation, and the society restored it to its original colonial decor. The museum now contains many original furniture pieces provided by the Brown family estate.


The house is a three-story brick structure with a hipped roof topped by a flat section. Both the main roof line and the flat section are ringed by a low balustrade. Four chimneys rise from the sides of the house, and its main entrance is in a center projecting section topped by a small triangular pediment. The entry is sheltered by a portico supported by sandstone Doric columns, and there is a Palladian window above the portico. The interior of the house follows a traditional Georgian plan, with a central hallway flanked by two rooms on either side. The hall is particularly grand, with engaged columns supporting architectural busts and a two-stage stairwell with an ornate twisting banister. Richly detailed woodwork is evident in all of the public rooms. Eleven of the building's twelve mantelpieces are original.


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