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Buildings at Brown

A guide to collections held at University Archives related to architecture and landscape design.

University Archives

The University Archives serves as the institutional memory of Brown University by collecting, preserving, and making accessible the materials that provide evidence of past University actions and contribute to an understanding of the university's structure and its history.

Please submit reference questions via the John Hay Library's Reference Request Form.

Reference Sources and Books

See Encyclopedia Brunoniana for entries on buildings.


Barry, Jay and Martha Mitchell. A Tale of Two Centuries: A Warm and Richly Pictorial History of Brown University, 1764-1985 (1985)

Iselin, Diane C. Ivied Halls : Two Centuries of Housing at Brown University Providence, R.I: [Office of Residential Life, Brown University] (1981)


Rhinehart , Raymond P., Walter Smalling, Christina H. Paxson, and Dietrich Neumann. Brown University: An Architectural Tour (2014)


An article by President Henry Wriston on the architecture of Brown:  

Wriston, Henry M. “Our Architecture on College Hill.” Brown Alumni Monthly (Nov/Dec 1946). 69-71.


See University Publications for additional sources.

An article on the List Art Building:

Neumann, Dietrich, and Juergen Schulz. “Johnson's Grid”. AA Files 70 (2015): 60–69.



University Archives has a variety of resources to support research about the buildings listed below.

  • Bond Bread Site (John Street Design Studio/Oenslager Studios): This has some social significance in that it illustrates Brown’s attempts at expansion into the Fox Point section of Providence.
  • Faunce House
  • Faculty Club
  • Football Stadium
  • Gardner House
  • Hope College
  • John Carter Brown Library
  • John Hay Library
  • Keeney Quadrangle
  • Marvel Gymnasium
  • Rhode Island Hall: Housed the Museum of Natural History, which was the subject of a project by students in the Public Humanities program.
  • Rochambeau House: The online exhibit Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, Steward of Rochambeau House, draws on the papers of Mary Elizabeth Sharpe in the John Hay Library.
  • Rockefeller Library
  • Sayles Hall
  • Sciences Library
  • Slater Hall: It was originally supposed to be built on the entire length middle green along George Street.  Brown changed the location because the original location impacted the view of the campus.  Slater Hall is a much scaled back version of the original plan.
  • University Hall
  • Wriston Quadrangle: This construction sparked the historic preservation of buildings in Providence.

University Records and Personal Papers

University Records

  • F. Morris Cochrane papers, circa 1939-1967 (Bulk 1945-1967) (OF-1D-C1) Vice President in charge of all the business operations of Brown University. The files include materials regarding administrative and academic departments, the budget, insurance, personnel, professional and student associations, purchasing, and rental property. 

Committee on Campus Planning (now Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning)

A Corporation committee informed on matters relating of the physical resources, facilities, infrastructure, landscaping, campus planning and aesthetic development of the University.  The committee advises the President and the Corporation on strategic physical planning matters.  Corporation records are closed for 50 years.  Request access through the Reference Request Form.

Records of the committee can be find in the following records:

  • Merton P. Stoltz papers, 1963-1975 (OF-1CA-S2) Provost and acting president of Brown University.  Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form.

Personal Papers and Organization Records


Related collections can be found in the Manuscripts Collection.  The Manuscripts Collection at the Brown University Library includes corporate archives, personal papers, collections compiled by collectors (sometimes called "artificial" collections), and single manuscripts. The manuscript collection as a whole is a particularly rich repository for sources in U.S. history, American literature and the history of science, technology and medicine, but manuscripts are collected in nearly every subject area.

  • Mary Elizabeth Sharpe papers, 1914-1985 (Ms. 2005.23) Mrs. Sharpe was a philanthropist with many interests but was best known for her efforts to beautify Brown University and the city of Providence, RI. A self-taught landscape architect, Sharpe established an annual tree fund and lead the fundraising efforts to create India Point Park, a Providence waterfront recreation area. 


There are over 60,000 photographs depicting campus scenes, buildings, groups, events, and student activities preserved and accessible in the University Archives.

Images of Brown (digitized)

The Images of Brown digital collection presents digital facsimiles of original documentary images in the Brown University Archives.

While Images of Brown is extensive, it is not comprehensive. Please review the Subject list of photographs to locate additional building photographs:

Subject (buildings, events, student activities,etc.)

Architectural Drawings

University Archives has a collection of architectural drawings for many campus buildings, but the drawings are not comprehensive.  Submit a request through the Reference Request Form if you are researching a particular building.

Digital Resources

Brown FACADES is an interactive guide to the architectural history of campus, currently available for free on the AppStore, with information on 132 buildings, both old and new.

Users can search for buildings by architect, function, year, or distance. The app’s GPS function guides users to each building and a text-to-speech function allows users to listen to each building’s history as they stand outside, taking note of various architectural elements.

The guide is a compilation of research by Brown University students at the Brown University Archives, Rhode Island Historical Society, and Providence Preservation Society.  Additional resources included the Brown Daily Herald and Encyclopedia Brunoniana.

Libraries, Historical Societies, and Web Resources

Additional sources of information about Brown University buildings:

Mary A. Gowdey Library of House Histories

Providence Preservation Society database of information about selected historic houses in the city.


Providence Preservation Society

Important resource for Providence historical architecture, founded in 1956 to prevent demolition on College Hill.


Providence Public Library

The library has a Rhode Island Room with many resources relating to Rhode Island history and architecture. This includes a subject file in card form to the Providence Journal where one may research topics from past years that haven't yet been indexed. Art/Archives Open Hours take place every Tuesday from 10:30-1:00, for all interested in visual research.


Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

Society for the preservation of historical materials relating to African Americans in Rhode Island, including paintings and other artworks.


Rhode Island Historical Society

Resource for all of Rhode Island's history, not just architecture.


Providence's Historic Districts

General information about the districts on the City of Providence Planning and Development webpage.


Providence City Archives

Among many other resources, includes building permit and razed building records.


Providence City Archives: Guide to Researching Your House History

Extremely helpful guide to resources, including research tips.


Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

State agency for historical preservation and heritage programs.

Art in Ruins

A non-scholarly website about Rhode Island industrial architecture.



Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability Web Archive. Rhode Island websites.


Historic American Buildings Survey

The nation's first federal preservation program, administered by the National Parks Service.


National Register of Historic Places

"The official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation."


Office of the Secretary of State of Rhode Island

The site includes state library and archive resources.


Preserve Rhode Island

Local organization dedicated to the preservation of Rhode Island historical architecture.


Providence Art Club

Founded in 1880 "to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community." Includes a searchable database of the club's exhibition catalogs, where one can research local artist.


The Providence Foundation

"The Providence Foundation is a private sector, not-for-profit organization. It is supported by 140 of the leading companies and institutions in Rhode Island. The Foundation has been working for 40 years to revitalize downtown Providence and create a success story that will provide long term economic and social benefits to the citizens of Rhode Island."

Not a scholarly but of interest for local information.


Recorder of Deeds Office, City of Providence

The office registers documents relating to land evidence, such as deeds, for the city of Providence. Some records available online.


Resources in Art and Architecture on the Web: Rhode Island

Compiled by librarian Karen Bouchard, includes many other Rhode Island resources having to do local with arts, architecture, and history.