Old State House (Providence, Rhode Island)

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Sixth District Court House (Old State House)
Old State House RI.jpg
Old State House in 2008
Location 150 Benefit St., Providence, Rhode Island
Built 1762
Architectural style Georgian architecture
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 70000092[1]
Added to NRHP April 28, 1970

The Old State House on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, known also as Providence Sixth District Court House, Providence Colony House, Providence County House, or Rhode Island State House is located on 150 Benefit Street. It is a brick Georgian-style building completed largely in 1762. It was used as the meeting place for the colonial and state legislatures for 149 years.


From colonial times to the mid-19th century, the Rhode Island General Assembly rotated meetings between the state's five county court houses, and five former Rhode Island state houses survive nowadays. In 1760 The General Assembly built the Old State House to replace an earlier wooden courthouse built 1730 on Meeting Street. It was largely finished by 1762 with some details being completed by 1771. Many of the Georgian architecture details were borrowed from the larger and more ornate Newport Colony House. Before 19th century alterations to the Providence State House, the two buildings resembled one another greatly. In the 19th century the large center-front tower was added. After 1853 the state legislature ceased meeting at Kent, Washington and Bristol county courthouses, but continued to alternate its sessions between here and the Newport State House in Newport into the early 20th century.

At the Old State House on May 4, 1776, the General Assembly declared its independence renouncing its allegiance to the British crown, and the date is now celebrated as Rhode Island Independence Day. Debates about slavery occurred in the building in the late 18th century. George Washington visited the building in 1781 and 1790. The building was extensively renovated and dramatically altered several times in the 19th century. By 1901 the new Rhode Island State House was occupied on Smith Hill and the legislature vacated the Old State House.

Old State House in 1891 with a front tower added

The Old State House was used as a Court House until 1975 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and as part of the College Hill Historic Landmark District in 1971.

The building is now home to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.


A open space hall for public meeting was located on the main floor and later became a courtroom.[2]

On the second floor was the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. Additional space was create for the Governor's and Secretary of State's offices.[2]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Conley, Patrick T.; Jones, Robert B.; Woodward, William Ray (1988). The State houses of Rhode Island: an architectural and historical legacy. Providence, R. I.: Rhode Island Historical Society and Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. ISBN 0-932840-04-3.