Chet Smolski, Rhode Island College


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The Old State House on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, also known as Providence Sixth District Court House, Providence Colony House, Providence County House, or Rhode Island State House is located on 150 Benefit Street. It is a brick Georgian-style building largely completed in 1762, and became the meeting place for the colony and state legislature for 149 years.

From colonial times into the mid-nineteenth century, the Rhode Island General Assembly rotated meetings between the state's five county court houses, and five former Rhode Island state houses survive today. In 1760 The General Assembly built the Old State House to replace an earlier wooden courthouse built in 1730 on Meeting Street. It was largely finished by 1762 with some details being completed by 1771. Many of the Georgian architectural details were borrowed from the larger and more ornate Newport Colony House. Before nineteenth century alterations to the Providence State House, the two buildings greatly resembled one another.

After 1853 the state legislature ceased meeting at Kent, Washington and Bristol county courthouses, but continued to alternate its sessions between here and the Newport State House in Newport into the early 20th century. At the Old State House on May 4, 1776, the General Assembly declared its independence renouncing its allegiance to the British crown, and the date is now celebrated as Rhode Island Independence Day. Fierce anti-slavery debates occurred in the building in the late 1700s. George Washington visited the building in 1781 and 1790. The building was extensively renovated and dramatically altered several times in the nineteenth century.

By 1901 the new Rhode Island State House was occupied on Smith Hill and the legislature vacated the Old State House. The Old State House was used as a Court House until 1975 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and as part of the College Hill Historic Landmark District in 1971. The building is now home to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.



This object from the Chester E. Smolski photographic slides and publications, housed by the Rhode Island College Special Collections, and any of its digital surrogates are the intellectual property of Rhode Island College. This digital object is protected by copyright and/or related rights. The digital material presented here is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This content can be used, shared, or adapted for educational and scholarly purposes. For permissions to use this item please contact All uses must include appropriate attribution.

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Recommended Citation

Chester E. Smolski photographic slides and publications, MSS-0041, Special Collections, James P. Adams Library, Rhode Island College.


Providence, Rhode Island; Old State House; municipal buildings; architecture; historic buildings;