Original Six-Building Campus

The original six building Mount Pleasant campus was designed as a whole by the Rhode Island architectural firm of Howe, Prout and Ekman and built by local firm E. Turgeon Construction Company, still in business today.  The six buildings were designed in the International Style, all with flat roofs and four with windows dominating multiple elevations. The six original buildings were not high style, but reflected the ar­chitects ‘ identification with broad international trends of the 20th century and the influ­ ence of architectural luminaries like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Edward Durell Stone.  At the time of construction in the late-1950s, the Modern campus stood in con­trast to the ivy-covered university buildings throughout Providence and represented a cutting-edge development in Rhode island ‘s architecture of higher education.  The six original buildings – John Lincoln Alger Hall, Henry Barnard School, Craig-Lee Hall, Dennis J Roberts Hall, the Student Center, and Lucius A. Whipple Gymnasium – housed classrooms, a laboratory school for teachers, administrative offices, student community space, and a sports and recreation area.

John Lincoln Alger Hall

John Lincoln Alger Hall is named for the princi­pal of the Rhode Island Normal School who be­came the first president of the Rhode Island Col­lege of Education when the institution changed its name. Alger was born in I 864 in Canada and received his Bachelor’s and Master’s from Brown University.[1] Dr. Alger was highly regarded in the education field, teaching and holding administra­tive  positions in Vermont and Rhode Island schools and receiving regional distinctions for his service.[2]   At the helm of the Rhode Island Normal School from 1908, through its transformation to the Rhode Island College of Education, to his retirement in 1939, Dr. Alger influenced scores of teachers and expanded the administration of the college. In 1921 Rhode Island State College (now  the  University of Rhode Island)  bestowed on  him  the  honorary degree of Doctor of Edu­cation describing him as a “scholar and educa­tor …[leading] one of the most efficient and pro­gressive teacher-training institutions of America. “[3]

John Lincoln Alger, 1st President of the Rhode Island College of Education (photo: RIC Archives)

John Lincoln Alger, 1st President of the Rhode Island College of Education (photo: RIC Archives)

Alger’s kindness and empathy towards  staff and students was noted throughout  his  career.[4] ” All good work is enjoya­ble, ” he stated in a 1932 radio  address, “and brings happiness in its train.” [5] Alger died in 1943 in New Haven, Connecticut.

The original Alger Hall, 1960.  (photo:  RIC Archives)

The original Alger Hall, 1960. (photo: RIC Archives)

John Lincoln Alger Hall was dedicated  in 1958  in honor of Alger’s  commit­ment to educational ad­vancement and his con­tributions to the develop­ment of the college. Howe, Prout, and Ekman designed the building to serve as one of two classroom  build­ings; it accommodated Mathematics,  Science, Social Sciences, and Arts classes.[6]    A slight cantilever extends on three sides of the northern and southern  facades, sheltering window walls divided  by asbestos  board spandrels.    Reflecting  on the design,  Ridgway Shinn, faculty member  and  later the first Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,  stated, ” It was bright and clean.  There was a freshness, an eagerness.  in Alger, where I did most of my teaching, the classrooms were wonderfUl because you had these walls of windows.  They were just lovely.” [7]

John Lincoln Alger Hall was dedicated in 1958 in honor of Alger’s commit­ment to educational ad­vancement and his con­tributions to the develop­ment  of  the  college.

The renovated Alger Hall, 2012.  (photo: Liz Warburton)

The renovated Alger Hall, 2012. (photo: Liz Warburton)

In  2006,  Alger  Hall  was  renovated  by  William  Kite  Architects,  Inc.  and completely transformed  in order to provide a technologically updated home for the School of Man­agement  and Technology.   Kite  Architects reclad the building,  removing  the original window walls, and constructed  additions to the east and west facades.  The interior of the building  was also  transformed,  providing  meeting  spaces  for departmental  or college­ wide events.    Dean of the School    of  Management  and Technology  James  Schweikert commented,  “Two years of careful design work has resulted in one of the finest teaching facilities in New England, certainly for the teaching  of business and economics. [8]

Henry Barnard School

Henry Barnard (photo: Wikipedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Barnard_American_educator.jpg)

Henry Barnard (photo: Wikipedia Commons:
http /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
File:Henry Barnard American educator.ipg#file history)

Henry Barnard was a national figure in the education field with a special connection to Rhode Island. Born in Connecticut, Barnard studied at Yale, and following his 1830 graduation, he mingled with influential people in the education and political fields.[9] Shortly thereafter, Barnard was elected to the Con­necticut legislature where he prioritized edu­cational reforms and establish ed a school commission. Barnard emphasized social and cultural pursuits through his advocacy of education for all children and his support for museums and libraries.[10] In 1843, he came to Rhode Island at the invitation of the gover­nor and conducted a census of schools. The results of Barnard ‘s survey led to an overhaul of the Rhode Island school system and his appointment in 1845 as the state’s first Com­missioner of Education.[11] After several years in Rhode Island , Barnard returned to Connecticut where he acted as a social reformer for the remainder of his life, celebrated for his contributions to the development of the education field. He died in 1900.

Beginning in 1893, the Rhode Island Normal School maintained public classrooms and instructional spaces at its Providence campus, and in 1898 it officially dedicated the Normal Observation School.[12] In 1920 this school was renamed for Henry Barnard, and th e sch oo l built on the new Mount Pleasant Campus retained the name. As a laboratory school,, it oper­ates in partnership with the college in order to provide education students with opportunities for class­room observation.

Henry Barnard School, shortly after construction completed, 1958. (photo: RIC Archives)

Henry Barnard School, shortly after construction completed, 1958. (photo: RIC Archives)

The design of the school building is a complementary part of the original campus and similar to many other mid century buildings, especially because of window-dominated walls also used throughout the new campus. The U-shaped building separates student grades into different wings. An ell facing College Road is notable for its three windows of glass brick, a material commonly used in schools and known for its durability.

Craig-Lee Hall (1958/1971)

Craig-Lee Hall is jointly named for Clara Craig and Mary Lee, two significant figures in college history. Dr. Clara Elizabeth Craig’s long tenure with the college began following her graduation with a Master’s degree from the Rhode Island College of Education . Throughout her career, Craig served as the Principal of the Henry Barnard School, Director of Teacher Training and Practice, and Dean of the College.[13] In 1913, the State Board of Education sent Craig to Rome to study Maria Montessori ‘s teaching methods. Upon her return , Craig recommended the adoption of Montessori methods in Rhode Island schools and spear­headed efforts to adapt the practices to local Curriculums. Craig concluded her 47-year career with her retirement in 1940 and died in 1943.

The Craig-Lee ladies L-R: Clara Craig, Mary Lee (photo: RIC Archives)

The Craig-Lee ladies L-R: Clara Craig, Mary Lee
(photo: RIC Archives)

Dr. Mary M. Lee completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Rhode Island College. Mentored by Dr. Craig, she succeeded her as the Director of Teacher Training in 1940. Lee’s love for the college was evident in her involvements as the president of the Rhode Island College Alumni Association, president of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, and member of the Board of Regents for Rhode Island State College and Rhode Island College.[14] President William Gaige described Lee as a “human milestone” who helped the college to grow and develop its educational programs for teachers.[15] Dr. Lee died in 1957 at the age of 51.

Lamborghini & Pipka scaled model of Craig-Lee Hall with 1970 addition. (photo: RIC Archives)

Lamborghini & Pipka scaled model of Craig-Lee Hall with 1970 addition.
(photo: RIC Archives)

Craig-Lee Hall was the direct complement to Alger Hall, sitting closely perpendicular to the building and possessing an almost identical design. ln 1970, construction began on a large addition to the western facade that now faces the quadrangle. The five-story addition designed by Lamborghini and Pipka dwarfs the original two-story horizontal design, and, when viewed from the west, it obscures much of the original building. lt is flat-roofed with slightly recessed vertical columns of narrow windows dividing the taught, light-colored brick facade. In 1972, a large outdoor clock was designed in con­sultation with Lamborghini and Pipka and added below the roofline. [16]

Dennis J. Roberts Hall (1958)

Offical portrait of Governor Dennis J. Roberts (artist: Germain Glidden, R/ State House)

Offical portrait of Governor Dennis J. Roberts (artist: Germain Glidden, R/ State House)

Dennis Joseph Roberts was Governor of Rhode Island from 1951-1959. Born in 1903, Roberts graduated from Fordham University and studied law at Bos­ton University Law School. He served in the State Senate and later as the Mayor of Providence, with a period of absence to serve in the US Navy during WWII. During his tenure as governor, Roberts reorganized the Department of Social Welfare and established the State Department of Administration as well as a development council for economic growth.

Roberts was instrumental in the development of the Mount Pleasant campus, first commissioning a study on Rhode Island College’s physical needs in 1953 and later initiating the move to the new campus. Roberts supported the bond issues to finance campus construction and worked with the Board of Trustees of State Colleges to provide the necessary infrastructure for the construction. At the time of construction, Roberts was commended for the speed with which he provided the resources needed for the campus development.[17]

The administrative suite at Roberts  Hall (photo: RIC Archives)

The administrative suite at Roberts Hall (photo: RIC Archives)

Roberts Hall was designed to house administrative offices, meeting spaces, and an auditorium large enough to seat the entire student body. In 1967 Turoff and Sande, a firm known for their school and administrative buildings, presented a preliminary design study to the college detailing their suggestions for an addition at the southeast corner of the building. Construction on this administrative wing began in 1969. Through the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act Rhode Island College received funding in 1976 for the construction of a Music Wing at the northwest corner of the original building. Baker and Conlon Architects, a regional firm who also designed the War­wick Ice Skating Rink, designed this wing. With these two additions, Roberts Hall became a sprawling building that still serves as the administrative nucleus of the college.

Student Center, now Art Center (1958/2012)

Originally the Student Center, named in honor of the students of the college, housed the library, bookstore, cafeteria, and student lounges.   The building was designed in the International   Style, but with a more sprawling   footprint than neighboring Alger Hall.  A rectangular   two-story wing faced Alger Hall, and curtain walls mimicked   that building’s original   design. A long hallway running  north to south opened onto a courtyard and connected the eastern wing, originally used for cafeteria space.

The present-day Art Center, in its original use as the college's Stu­dent Center, c. 1958. (photo: RIC Archives)

The present-day Art Center, in its original use as the college’s Stu­dent Center, c. 1958. (photo: RIC Archives)

Following construction of the James P. Adams Library (1963) and the multi-phased Student Union (dedicated   in 1966), the Student Center no longer served   as the cen­tral location for campus community services.   By the late-1960s, plans were un­derway to transform part of the building   into a space for the Ali Department. A June,  1969 request to Presi­dent Kauffman stated that the  building would be ideal for an Art Center, as its architecture would support studios, open space for sculpture displays, long hallways for   galleries,   and easy access to outdoor spac­es for sketching and inspira­tion . With the help of skilled art students the Stu­dent Center was gradually transformed, and in 1976 the Art Center was complete.[18]

Artistic rendering of the future Art Center by RGB Associates (photo: RIC What's News)

Artistic rendering of the future Art Center by RGB Associates (photo: RIC What’s News)

On May 4, 2012 Rhode Island College broke ground for a $17 million renovation   and expansion of the Art Center. The refurbished 54,000 square-foot   state-of-the-art facility was designed   specifically for students in the fine arts   by Design Partnership of Cam­bridge/ Schwartz-Silver Associates.   Phase 1 is scheduled to be finished by January 2013, and by January 2014 the project will be completed. [19]

Lucius A. Whipple Gymnasium (1958)

Lucius A. Whipple, 2nd President of the Rhode Island College of Education (photo: RIC Archives)

Lucius A. Whipple, 2nd President of the
Rhode Island College of Education (photo: RIC Archives)

Lucius  A.  Whipple, the second  president  of the Rhode  Island College  of  Education,  emphasized student  activities and involvement on  campus.  Whipple Gymnasium, now known as Whipple Hall, is set amidst the sports fields in the central section of campus. Whipple graduated  from the Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island State College, and Brown University and received honorary degrees from Providence Catholic Teachers’ College, Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, Rhode Island State College, Providence College, and Bryant University. Before becoming President of the Rhode Island College of Education  in 1940, he taught in Rhode Island and Maine. Dr. Whipple served on a variety of boards throughout his professional career, notably as the Superintendent of the State Home and School  for Dependent and Neglected Children that now composes Rhode Island College’s East Campus.

Originally Whipple Hall housed gymnasium space, exercise rooms, and facilities for sports events, in addition to several classrooms. Billie A. Burrill, founder of the Rhode Island College Dance Company, recalled, The number of students at the College grew so quickly! Believe it or not, we soon outgrew the facilities of the new Whipple Gymnasium, and I had to teach folk dance in its foyer.[20] Today, the building space has been converted into classrooms and a large computer laboratory.

whippleGym

Lucius A. Whipple Gymnasium, 1958. (photo: RIC Archives)


  1. Michael Smith. "Last President, First Principal." Rhode Island College Sesquicentennial. http://www.ric.edu/ric150/memories/archv11.html. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  2. Michael Smith. "Last President, First Principal." Rhode Island College Sesquicentennial. http://www.ric.edu/ric150/memories/archv11.html. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  3. Ibid.
  4. Michael Smith. "Last President, First Principal." Rhode Island College Sesquicentennial. http://www.ric.edu/ric150/memories/archv11.html. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  5. Transcript of Radio Address by Dr. John Lincoln Alger, December 13, 1932. p. 1. Rhode Island College.   James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.  Faculty File, 11/1.
  6. Catalog of the Rhode Island College of Education, 1958-1959. p. 4.  Rhode Island College.  James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.
  7. Marlene Lopes, ed.  Rhode Island College: On the Move.  A Fiftieth Anniversary Collective Memoir. (Providence, Rl: Rhode Island College, 2008),  p.18.
  8. 'Alger Hall, School of Management, Rhode Island College: Project Description." William Kite Architects, Inc. http://www.kitearchitects.com/awards-portfolio/awards/alger -hall-school-of-management.  (accessed March 29, 2012).
  9. 'Barnard, Henry." American National Biography Online.  http://www.anb.org. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  10. Ibid.
  11. 'Henry Barnard (1811-1900)." Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation.  http://cedarhillfoundation.org/notable-residents/henry­barnard/ (accessed March 29, 2012)
  12. "Function of the Henry Barnard School." Catalog of the Rhode Island College of Education, 1959-1960. p. 15. Rhode Island College.  James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.
  13. Marlene Lopes. "This Wonderful Institution: Teaching and Learning at Rhode Island College, 1854-1958." Issues in Teaching and Learning, Vol. 5. http://www.ric.edu/itl/volume 05 lopes.php. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  14. "Funeral Rites Held for Dr. Mary M. Lee,' August 8, 1957. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections. Faculty File, 11/1.
  15. Lopes, "This Wonderful Institution.'
  16. "A College Notebook." Folio, Number 28. June 1972. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.
  17. Roberts," Buildings and Named Places Binder.”
  18. "Art Center Expansion: Creative Explosion." Logo: An Accent on People, Programs, and Policies from  Rhode Island College. Spring 1976, p.2. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections, 7.313.
  19. "RIC Breaks Ground on Arl Center Renovation and Expansion." What's News Online. http:www.ric.edu/whatsnews/details.php?News 10=1804. (accessed July 6, 2012).
  20. Lopes, Rhode Island College on the Move. p. 29