John Holden Greene

Inducted: 2001
Born: 1777
Died: 1850

Greene, John Holden, 1777-1850

John Holden Greene was a carpenter-architect who moved from his native Warwick to Providence in 1794 and designed his first major Providence structure, the Sullivan Dorr House, in 1809. Embracing the Neo-classical style known as Federal architecture, many of his homes were distinguished by roof and portico balustrading. Greene designed a sizeable portion of Providence’s finest early 19th century homes and public buildings. Those that survive in addition to the Dorr House, include the Cathedral of St. John (1810), the First Unitarian Church (1814-16), the Truman-Beckwith House (1827-28) at 42 College Street, and the Benoni Cooke House (1828) at 112 South Main Street.

Greene has been described as “the most noted architect in Providence during the first fifty years of the nineteenth century.” In the Dorr Mansion and his surviving church buildings, Greene inventively combined classic and Gothic elements giving a uniqueness to these structures.

During a period of extensive building in Providence, Greene was much in demand as a designer. Thus a walk through the Benefit Street-College Hill neighborhood, one can experience an area enhanced by Green’s ingenuity and characterized by his ideas.

Unfortunately many of his buildings are gone, such as the Dexter Asylum and a group of 1820s structures near Market Square where he built a business block, the Roger Williams Bank, and the Bristol Hotel. Another creation, known as the Franklin House, has been incorporated into the Rhode Island School of Design building at the northeast corner of South Main and College Streets. His own residence at 33 Thayer Street still stands along with fifteen others he designed in Providence.

His son, Albert Gorton Greene (1802-1868), was a prominent attorney and judge as well as an accomplished poet.

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