Market House was constructed in 1775 by Joseph Brown, a prominent local architect, and Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The bottom level originally functioned as a market place while meetings took place upstairs. the building was the site of numerous historically significant political events and protests while the building itself has hosted civic functions and meetings of local organizations nearly two-and-a-half centuries. During the American Revolution, French soldiers encamped in Providence used the Market House as their barracks. The Providence City Council used the building as their headquarters for decades before the city built a dedicated City Hall.
Backstory and Context
The building and associated town square became the center of the community during its formative years and continues to serve as both a market and meeting space. The building's lower level was designed to serve fishmongers, butchers, and other food vendors while the upper floors functioned as a meeting hall. The stalls used in the lower levels for the market functions were sold at auction in 1776.
Market House demonstrates the connection between local and national histories and its prominent events serve as a timeline of major themes in American history. From hosting protests by colonial Patriots during the Revolutionary War, to the arrest of a feminist speaking out for women's rights, to important meetings by local organizations, the building has been at the center of the community's history in ways that reflect the larger history of the nation.
Renshaw, Clifford M. "Nomination Form: Market House." National Register of Historic Places. June 21, 1971. http://www.preservation.ri.gov/pdfs_zips_downloads/national_pdfs/providence/prov_market-square_marke...
Market House water mark plaques: By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39486822
1844 Picture: By Welcome Arnold Greene - Engraving from "The Providence Plantations for 250 Years" (1886), p. 87, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39491730
April 30, 2009 picture: Photos by Jef Nickerson, located at http://www.gcpvd.org/2009/04/30/flickr-finds-market-house/
Civil War Era picture: From Old Stone Bank History of Rhode Island Vol. 4 (1944), found within a blog (pic collection) at https://quahogannex.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/images-of-market-house-and-market-square-providence-ri/