Kingston Free Library

2605 Kingstown Road
Kingston, RI 02881

401-783-8254

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.

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