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The Rhode Island State House

Click on the picture to see the larger, full color version.

Rhode Island State House Sitting prominently on Smith Hill in Providence, the Rhode Island State House is a landmark visible from most of downtown and many approaching highways. The building is a testament to Rhode Island's political, cultural and economic standing at the turn of the century.

Designed by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, construction of the State House began in 1895 and continued until 1901. The completed building is 330 feet long, 180 feet wide and 233 feet high.

The Rotunda Built of white marble with a large central dome and two wings, the State House follows the form established for bicameral legislative buildings by the United States Capital Building in Washington, D.C. It includes a central entrance rotunda flanked by two wings. Carved in the marble over the pillared porticoes are quotations and historical chronologies of Rhode Island and its history. On the top of the dome stands the statue of the Independent Man.

Senate Chamber Throughout the rotunda are battle flags, statues and guns representing Rhode Island's military past. In the center of the rotunda, under the marble dome, is a brass replica of the state seal including an anchor and the word "Hope". Looking upward, you will see the beautiful murals painted when the State House was refurbished in the 1940's.

The wings contain the legislative chambers, with offices around the external walls. The Senate Chamber includes the seals of the thirteen original colonies in the arch over the Rostrum with Rhode Island's in the center. In the opposite wing is the House chamber.

State  Reception Room In addition to the House and Senate chambers, the main floor contains the State House Library and the State Reception Room. The State Reception Room is the most lavish of the public rooms. Decorated in the Louis XIV style with marble pilasters lining the walls, the room contains the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington.

Today, the State House remains a proud symbol of Rhode Island's economic and social stature.

"To hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments."

From an inscription on the South Portico

All pictures on this page were taken on May 16, 1998. This page utilizes information from:

  • The State Houses of Rhode Island published by the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission, Providence, Rhode Island, 1988.
  • Rhode Island State House Guide prepared by the Office of the Secretary of State, James R. Langevin, Secretary of State, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
For additional information, visit the home page of Rhode Island's Secretary of State.

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