Russell Warren, 1783-1860, was a Tiverton-born carpenter who became one of Rhode Island’s leading architects. The first phase of his career (1800-1823) was marked by residence in Bristol where he designed mansions for that town’s prosperous merchants. His move to Providence in 1826 allowed him to design (with James C. Bucklin) such important structures as the Providence Arcade (1827-29) and the Westminster Congregational Church (1828-29). Although the majority of his buildings were constructed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (especially Fall River and New Bedford), examples of his late Federal and Greek Revival styles are also found in Georgia, New York, and South Carolina where Warren lived for a time.
Despite his far-flung travels, Warren’s impact upon the architecture of Bristol identifies him more with that town than any other. He won the admiration and respect of the powerful DeWolf family, and beginning in 1808, family members chose him to design four splendid mansions. Of the four, only Linden Place (1810) at 500 Hope Street which he built for George DeWolf, survives. Maintained by the Friends of Linden Place, it is the centerpiece of Bristol’s current cultural life.
A number of Warren’s elegant but less opulent houses have also survived and grace the Bristol streetscape on Hope and State Streets. It is also probable that the Bristol County Statehouse/Courthouse is Warren’s work, given James DeWolf’s dominant role in obtaining the funding for that structure in 1816 and Warren’s close association with DeWolf.
According to one authority, Warren’s later work “reflected the broad spectrum of styles, including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Italianate, popular during the mid-nineteenth century. Warren’s ingenious, often fanciful, adaptation of forms and uncommon sense of scale distinguish his work from other practitioners of the period. The competence and originality of his buildings have earned him a special place in the annals of American architecture.