The East Campus of Rhode Island College has a long history of state usage. First developed as a farm for Providence businessman George W Chapin, the land was in use by the state as the State Home and School for Dependent and Neglected Children by 1885. The State Home was one of the first institutions of its kind in the country, challenging traditional models of child welfare to focus on holistic care and a campus like setting that housed children in domestic-scale buildings. In I947, the State Home and School reorganized and became the Dr. Patrick I. 0’Rourke Children ‘s Center. The Children’s Center era began a new period of construction where the wooden cottages constructed for the State Home were torn down and the modern brick buildings now in use by Rhode Island College were constructed. In the 1990s, Rhode Island College acquired these eleven brick buildings, one historic wooden cottage, and the c.1870s stone house built by George Chapin that was later used for administrative purposes by the State Home and Children ‘s Center. The College acquired the land from the Department of Children, Youth, and Families who took ownership after the closure of the O ‘Rourke Center in 1979.
A National Register of Historic Places nomination for the State Home and School/ Children’s Center property remains under review by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.
Buildings 1-6, 8
The O’Rourke Children’s Center constructed Buildings 1-10 as dormitories for its residents. Rhode Island College has reused each building and has since dedicated several in honor of significant individuals. Buildings 1-6 and Building 8 retain their O’Rourke Center numbers and have not been formally renamed. Building 4 is recognized as the Records and Bursar’s office, Building 5 as the Account, Payroll, and Purchasing offices, and Building 8 as the Outreach Programs office.
Buildings 1-6 line the western border of the East Campus. Building 8 i s the only O’Rourke Center building not yet ren am ed on the eastern side of the East Campus and sits to the south of the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities. Shared characteristics of the original designs included flat roofs, horizontal massing, and lack of ornamentation. Since Rhode Island College assumed ownership of these buildings, the college has added hipped roofs to Buildings 4 and 5 and remodeled the lower level and entryway of Build ing 3 for a more contemporary student cafe. Buildings 1 and 2 have had minor restoration work that has not altered the character of the original design. Building 6 remains entirely unaltered; notable features include light switches placed high up on walls, outside the reach of young children. Building 8, along the eastern border of the property, also remains unaltered and is used for administrative office space.
Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities (2009)
Known to colleagues as the “Father of Special Education,” Paul Sherlock was a teacher, legislator, and lifelong advocate for those with disabilities. Born in 1930, Sherlock was raised in Pawtucket and educated at St. Raphael Academy, Providence Co ll ege, and Boston University. Inspired by his son who had Down syndrome, Sherlock dedicated himself to advocating for those with disabilities. As Rhode Island’s Director of Special Education he notably fought to close the troubled Ladd School in Exeter; he taught Special Education at Rhode Island College; and he served as President of the Trudeau Center and the Rhode Island Association of Retarded Citizens. A twenty-five year tenure as a General Assembly Representative allowed Sherlock to expand his human rights advocacy to champion a higher minimum wage and assistance for working families.[endnote]”Senate Resolution: Expressing Condolences on the Passing of our Colleague Representative Paul V. Sherlock.” http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BiiiText/BiiiText04/SenateText04/S2130.odf (accessed June 29, 2012).[/endnote]
The Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities was built in the footprint of the origina l Building 7, a girls’ dormitory for the O’Rourke Center. The new building complements the style and materials of the original O’Rourke buildings and other campus buildings. The building’s design includes vertical columns of windows divided by rectangular spandrels, a center gable, and the brick accents found in many of the campus’ International Style buildings from the 1950s and 1960s.
School of Social Work/Building 9 (1963/2004)
Building 9 was built in 1963 to serve as the Medical Services Building for the O’Rourke Center. The one-story brick building with a flat concrete roof was used as a residence, clinic, and infirmary in addition to the medical services unit. A character-defining feature of the original design was the open central courtyard. Building 9 was the last building constructed for the O’Rourke Center before its closure in 1 979.
William Kite Architects, lnc. began the renovation of Building 9 in 2003, and the firm received numerous awards for the restoration, including the 2006 Merit Award for Adaptive Reuse and Historic Preservation from AIA/RI. The 2004 renovations enclosed the courtyard with a large vaulted sunroof that allows Rhode Island College to use the area for all-weather study space while maintaining much of its original character.
In 2004 Building 9 became headquarters for the Rhode Island College School of Social Work. Previous homes for the program included Adams Library, the O’Rourke Center’s school building (now the Rhode Island College Recreation Center), and Building 1.
Joseph F. Kauffman Center/Building 10 (1951/2002)
Building 10 was the first of the modem brick dormitories to be constructed for the O’Rourke Center. Jackson, Robertson, and Adams, Architects designed the T-shaped one-story building in 1951 as a girls’ dormitory. The original design provided space for nine bedrooms, a house mother’s room, bathrooms, and closets. The basement level was used for laundry, storage, crafts, and group space.
In 2004 Building 10 was named for Joseph F. Kauffman, the College’s fourth president (1968-1973). Born in Providence, Joseph F. Kauffman earned degrees from the University of Denver, Northwestern University, and Boston University. He was involved with the development of the Peace Corps and gained recognition nationwide as an expert on leadership in higher education.
During the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s, Kauffman faced social unrest and the challenges of sit-ins, teach-ins, strikes, and moratoriums. He greatly extended the role of students. At the same time many significant academic programs were created, graduate education was expanded, and enrollment increased 60%. The Mount Pleasant campus experienced unprecedented growth: Horace Mann Hall, Rose Butler Browne and Charles B. Willard Residence Halls, the Faculty Center, an administrative wing to Dennis J. Roberts Hall, an addition to Craig-Lee Hall, the conversion of the Student Center into the Art Center, and the acquisition of 6.5 acres of land and the Alumni House overlooking Fruit Hill Avenue were all accomplished during Kauffinan’s presidency.
In 1973 he left Rhode Island College to serve as a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin . Rhode Island College conferred on him an honorary degree in 1978 and the title of President Emeritus in 1983. Dr. Kauffman passed away in Madison, Wisconsin in 2006.
Cottage C (1885/2004/2012)
Today Cottage C is the only remaining dormitory from the original State Home and School. Sometimes referred to as the Yellow Cottage, the building is sheathed in wood clapboard with a cross gable. The Victorian building exhibits Italianate details through its dentil molding and decorative porch surround. The cottage’s most unique architectural feature is the interior staircase; the stairs are narrower than a standard staircase to accommodate the young children who once traveled up and down the steps.
When the State Home became the O’Rourke Children ‘s Center in 1947, the cottage became the social workers’ residence and an administrative building. After the closure of the Children’s Center in 1979, the Cottage became a Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) administrative building. DCYF vacated in 1997, and the property was purchased by the State for Rhode Island College, after which time it stood vacant and rapidly deteriorated.
The exterior of Cottage C was restored with the assistance of a State Preservation Grant from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission in 2004. Interior restoration began in 2012. Structurally, the building has remained largely unaltered throughout its lifetime with the exception of a handicapped ramp added to the rear of the building during the 2004 renovations by Rhode Island College.
Sylvan R. Forman Center (c. 1875/1885/1887)
Sylvan Rolfe Forman was born in Providence and studied at Bryant University before becoming a regional postal worker. His wife, Helen (Ginsburg) Forman was an alumna of the Rhode Island College of Education, and the two became benefactors of the institution.
At the time of Sylvan ‘s death, Helen donated $250,000 to the Co llege and the Forman Center was renamed in honor of her husband. The Sylvan R. Forman Center houses the Undergraduate Admissions Office and is one of the centerpiece administrative buildings on campus.
Built for George W. Chapin in a formerly rural area, the Forman Center building is the oldest on campus, although the exact date of construction remains unknown. Architect Charles W. Hartshom was George Chapin ‘s brother in law; he was Helen and Sylvan Forman the time the Chapin House was constructed, and his stylistic preferences are compatible with the Chapin House. Further research is needed to determine if he may have been the architect.
Constructed c. 1875 in the French Second Empire style, the western portion of the building stood alone until the late 1880s when an ell and second addition were added. All three segments of the building are constructed of stone with a rubble stone chimney on the western far;ade. The mansard roof repeats on the additions, as do wooden dormers. A decorative Victorian entry porch accents the main door.
Adapted as the Superintendent ‘s House for the State Home and School/O’ Rourke Center, it was used as an administrative building until the institution’s closure in 1979. Rhode Island College acquired the building in 1991 when the Department of Children, Youth, and Families vacated the property, and Governor Sundlun transferred ownership to the College. Since then – and following a small fire – Rhode Island College has restored the building, taking care to preserve original details. Where changes were made, the college made calculated decisions about the building’s historic integrity; an example is the closing in of a small door on the rear façade but using the original framing to create a window in the same space.
Recreation Center (1954/1989/2011)
Replacing a previous multipurpose building that was destroyed by fire in 1951 , the Auditorium Building was completed for the O’ Rourke Center c. 1954 to serve as a multi-purpose facility for school, chapel services, and assembly space. It was a tall two-story brick building with a flat roof and a one-story wing projecting from the rear. When Rhode Island College acquired the O’Rourke Center property, it constructed a large addition to the Auditorium to create a college Recreation Center. The addition overwhelms the original Auditorium but was simply attached to the southern façade, leaving the original 1954 building form largely intact. The main western façade was painted to coordinate with the Recreation Center addition, and the second-story windows were bricked in.
In 2011 the College began renovations which would completely transform the building, notably the exterior of the original O’Rourke Auditorium. The new design, by Design Partnership of Cambridge and Sgarzi Associates, removed the western façade original building, and replaced it with window walls on both levels. A redesigned en trance altered the 1989 addition, and the interiors of both portions of the building were completely redesigned. On September I 0, 2012 a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was held for the 80,000-square-foot facility and the adjoining and newly created Dr. Ivy Denise Locke Memorial Terrace, financed with the support of students and the family, friends, and colleagues of Rhode Island College’s Vice President for Administration and Finance (2006-2010).
- "School of Social Work: Rhode Island College." William Kite Architects, Inc. http://www.kitearchitects.com/awardsportfolio/awards/school-of-social-work (accessed March 29, 2012). ↵
- John Nazarian address. October 2006. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections. Faculty File, 11/1. ↵
- Michael Smith. "Remembering the Presidency of Joseph Kauffman." http://www.ric.edu/ric150/memories/archv01.html (accessed June 29, 2012). ↵
- Council of Rhode Island College. "Resolution Honoring the Life and Contributions of Joseph F. Kauffman, President Emeritus of Rhode Island College." December 2006. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections. Faculty File, 11/1. ↵