|Doyle, Thomas Arthur, 1827-1886|
Mayor Thomas A. Doyle, an independent-minded Republican of Irish Protestant stock, is regarded by historians as Providence’s greatest mayor. He was born in Providence as one of seven children, including a sister, Sarah, who became a noted educator and advocate for women’s rights.
After attending public school, Doyle gained employment as a clerk for several companies and then became a stockbroker and real estate auctioneer. In the 1850s, he served on the Providence Common Council (two years as its president) and began an eighteen-year tenure on the Providence School Committee.
Doyle won the office of mayor for the first time in June 1864 and served until June 1869. His second tenure extended from June 1870 to January 1881, and his final term from January 1884 until his death in office on June 9, 1886–a total of eighteen years as chief executive. Under Doyle’s leadership numerous public works projects were undertaken including the construction of the present City Hall, and city services were markedly improved. His many innovations were not an unmixed blessing, however, because they caused a sharp rise both in municipal indebtedness and in the property tax rate.
Between his second and third tours of duty, Doyle was elected to the state senate, and throughout his adult life he was a prominent member of the Masonic Order, serving as Rhode Island Grand Master Mason for seven years. In 1869, he married Almyra Sprague, sister of Senator William Sprague, but this union produced no children.
The Boston Advertiser described Doyle’s mayoral career as “absolutely free from the taint of jobbery, dishonesty, or malfeasance” and “deserving of studious attention on the part of those interested in the difficult and undefined art of municipal government.”