Our Buildings

HISTORY OF THE PEACE DALE LIBRARY BUILDING

Hazard Memorial Building/South Kingstown Public Library/Peace Dale (1891)

On October 9, 1891, Rowland Hazard and John Newbold Hazard gave to the town a living memorial "builded" [sic] in memory of their father Rowland Gibson Hazard. Designed by architect Frank W. Angell, the building is a massive Richardsonian Romanesque stone building with a hip-roof and large wood-shingled section at the rear with a louvered cupola. It has a large arched entry; a short conical tower at the right of the entry; a gabled section, with wood-shingled upper part left of the entrance; straight topped windows; several small gabled and eyebrow dormers; and two massive stone chimneys. In addition, there is a porte-cochère on the east side and a porch on the west side. The wood-shingled section was originally a large auditorium with a stage and was actively used in the early 20th century when the building was the center of village life. Above the former stage is a plaster frieze depicting musical activity, which is a reproduction of a work by Italian Renaissance sculptor Luca Della Robbia. The library originally occupied the large front room, which has a balcony that goes nearly around the room. This room as well as others is finished almost exclusively with cypress. Today the Hazard Memorial Building serves as the central library for the South Kingstown Public Library system. In November 1988, a major renovation to the building was undertaken and completed in March 1990. The renovation preserved the architectural integrity of the building and traditions of the past and incorporated them into providing a contemporary library facility for the entire community. A bronze sculpture, "The Weaver", by Daniel Chester French sits on the Library grounds. French's only work in Rhode Island, this 1920 piece was commissioned by Caroline Hazard in memory of her father and her two brothers.

Adapted from: Historical and Architectural Resources of South Kingstown, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report, published in 1984 by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.

HISTORY OF THE KINGSTON FREE LIBRARY BUILDING

Kingston Free Library Branch (1775-76)

The building presently occupied by the library is a large two and one-half story structure with a polygonal belfry and roof and a large pedimented entry. Materials used in the post and beam construction came from local forests within a mile radius. Originally built as a county court house, it also served as one of the five original state houses when the General Assembly rotated its meetings between 1776-1791. The exterior was altered in 1876, taking on a dignified Victorian appearance. The gable roof was replaced with a mansard style roof, bracketed cornices were installed, and a central pavilion and tower were added to the front, providing a new entry, vestibule, and staircase to the courtroom on the second floor. The belfry was moved from the old roof to the top of the tower. Contrasting colors in deep gold and dark brown were chosen to enhance the ornamentation. In 1895, when a new court house was build in West Kingston, the first floor was remodeled for library purposes and the court room on the second floor was converted into a meeting hall (Potter Hall). in 1959, the General Assembly transferred the title of the building to the Kingston Free Library Corporation for $1.00. In 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior was completely renovated in 1994. A two-story addition was constructed at the rear of the building and an elevator was installed to provide handicapped access to Potter Hall.

Source: Historical and Architectural Resources of South Kingstown, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report, published in 1984 by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.

HISTORY OF THE ROBERT BEVERLY HALE LIBRARY BUILDING

Robert Beverly Hale Branch (1896)

This library which serves the Matunuck and Perryville area in South Kingstown was dedicated to the memory of Robert Beverly Hale. Hale, who died at an early age, was the son of Edward Everett Hale, a Unitarian minister, writer, and author of The Man Without a Country. The building is a one-story clapboard shingled structure, with a stone-and-brick chimney and granite foundation. There is a central entry with a semi-elliptical fanlight and sidelights. The main reading room has a fireplace and a handsome bay window with a view of the surrounding woods. In 1930, the Perkins Memorial Wing was added on the west which provided a children's room that is still in use today. The Caroline P. Atkinson Memorial Wing was added in 1952 on the east. The library underwent an extensive renovation in 1991 which included a small two-story addition at the rear of the building for a staff office/workroom and storage space in the basement.

Source: Historical and Architectural Resources of South Kingstown, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report, published in 1984 by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.