Yesterday enthusiastic RISD staffers joined longtime library archivist Andy Martinez for a campus tour as part of the Staff Council’s Discover the Hidden Treasures of RISD series. The group gathered at the Fleet Library, where Martinez explained that the theme of his talk would be “persistence, opportunism, patronage and preservation,” the driving forces behind RISD’s history. He went on to provide delicious details about the 50-odd buildings on campus, 80% of which were acquired and adapted for reuse.
Did you know that Market House, built in 1773, is the oldest building on campus? And that it once served as Providence’s City Hall? The College Building, which gave RISD its official Two College Street address after being purchased in 1936, was once the Franklin House Hotel. And RISD bought Woods-Gerry House, built for Marshall Woods in 1864 using Philadelphia brick and Maine lumber, in the 1950s with the explicit intention of razing the building. Luckily, it was saved thanks to protests and persuasive efforts by faculty, students and the Providence Preservation Society.