Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI

Pembroke Hall on Meeting Street in Providence, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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Pembroke Hall was the first permanent building for Pembroke College, which had been established in 1891 as Brown University’s college for women. This building was completed in 1897, and was the college’s only building for the next ten years. As the school expanded, though, Pembroke Hall became exclusively used for academics, with a library on the top floor. In 1971, Pembroke College merged with Brown University, and the building was renovated again, to house administrative offices. A third major renovation came in 2008, when the interior was rebuilt with classrooms, conference rooms, and office space for the Cogut Center for the Humanities and for the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Through it all, though, the nearly 120 year old building’s exterior has remained completely unchanged, aside from the missing weathervanes atop the dormers.

Sayles Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI

Sayles Hall on the campus of Brown University, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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Sayles Hall was built on the College Green at Brown University in 1881, and was donated by Pawtucket textile manufacturer William F. Sayles. He named it in honor of his son, William Clark Sayles, who died in 1876 during his sophomore year at Brown. The building’s Romanesque architecture was typical for institutional buildings of the era, and was designed by Providence architect Alpheus C. Morse. The front of the building features classrooms, while the much larger back portion is an assembly hall.

It is partially obscured by trees in the present-day view, but the exterior of Sayles Hall looks the same today as it did when it was completed over 130 years ago. Its assembly hall has been used over the years for everything from alumni dinners to winter baseball practices, and it remains in use today for lectures, concerts, and other events.

Public Library, Worcester, Mass

The Worcester Public Library on Elm Street, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

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Prior to the mid-19th century, public libraries were almost unheard of in the United States. However, by the late 1850s many cities were establishing their own libraries, including Worcester in 1859. It began with about 10,000 books, donated from the Worcester Lyceum and the private collection of Dr. John Green, and was originally housed on the third floor of a commercial block at the corner of Main and Foster Streets.

In 1862, the library moved into its first permanent home on Elm Street, the building on the right side of the first photo. In the following decades, though, the library’s collections outgrew this original space, and in 1891 it was expanded to the east with the massive addition on the left side of the photo. This addition was designed by Worcester architect Stephen Earle, with a Romanesque style design that bore no relation to the more Italianate-based style of the original building.

The Worcester Public Library remained here until 1964, when it moved to its current location on Salem Street. The century-old building here on Elm Street, along with its 1891 addition, were then demolished, and the site was redeveloped as a parking garage.

Post Office, Worcester, Mass

The old post office on Main Street, near Southbridge Street, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

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Worcester was first settled in the 1600s, and incorporated as a city in 1848, but it did not have a permanent post office building until the very end of the 19th century. For years, the post office was located in private homes and shops, and it was not until the completion of this building in 1897 that it had a dedicated, federally-owned building. It was built on a trapezoid-shaped plot of land between Main and Southbridge Streets, with Romanesque Revival architecture that was common in late 19th century public buildings.

By the early 20th century, Romanesque architecture had already fallen out of vogue, and the building’s size was insufficient for the needs of a growing city. It was demolished in the early 1930s, and replaced with the current Harold Donahue Federal Building and Courthouse, which has itself become a historic building. The only building still standing from the first photo, though, is the 1850s Stevens’ Building, which is partially visible in the distance to the left of the post office. Today, both it and the neighboring federal building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Salisbury Laboratories, Worcester, Mass

The Salisbury Laboratories building at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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This building is one of the oldest on the WPI campus, and was completed in 1888 to alleviate overcrowding at Boynton Hall. It provided additional classroom and lab space for the school, and was built with funds provided by Stephen Salisbury III, who had the building named in honor of his father, one of the founders of the school. Local architect Stephen C. Earle designed the building in a fairly conservative Romanesque design that more closely resembled a mill than an institution of higher learning, perhaps reflecting the practical, industrial nature of the school’s programs.

Over the years, the Salisbury Laboratories building has been significantly expanded, including a 1940 addition to the right that imitates Earle’s original design. The original building is still easily recognizable, though, and remains in use for classrooms, labs, and lecture halls. Further in the distance on the left, the historic 1868 Washburn Shops building is also still standing, and just out of view beyond it is Boynton Hall, which opened the same year and was the school’s first building.

National Guard Armory, Worcester, Mass

The National Guard Armory at the corner of Salisbury and Grove Streets in Worcester, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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This castle-like design was a common element of National Guard armories in Massachusetts built in the late 19th century, and similarly imposing structures from the same time period can be seen in Springfield and Boston. Although it was never besieged by enemy armies, and no arrows ever rained down from the turrets, the building has been a landmark feature at Wheaton Square ever since its completion in 1890. It was designed by the Worcester-based firm of Fuller & Delano, and as seen in an earlier post, it is one of several prominent Romanesque-style buildings that were constructed here around the same time period.

Today, the armory building is no longer used by the National Guard. For many years, it was home to the National Guard Museum and Archives, but in 2013 the museum moved to Concord, and the following year the building was transferred to Veterans, Inc., an organization that serves homeless veterans and had leased part of the building since 1991. It is also a contributing property in the Institutional District, on the National Register of Historic Places, and aside from the shortening of the central tower the building’s exterior remains well preserved over 125 years after its completion.