The Wriston Quadrangle was built between 1950 and 1952 on a site bordered by George, Thayer, Charles Field, and Brown Streets. The design by Perry, Shaw and Hepburn included nine residential buildings, which were built by the Gilbane Building Company in a Georgian style with a facing named “University Hall bond,” consisting of three rows of brick the long way alternated with one row facing endwise. The typical building had a fraternity house on each wing and a dormitory in the central section. Movable partitions in the corridors could be adjusted to enlarge or contract the fraternity sections as needed by varying memberships. This idea was conceived by President Wriston to allow maximum usage of the rooms, by “moving” those not in use by a fraternity with a small membership into the dormitory section. A dry moat four feet deep around the quadrangle surrounded by a fence was designed for protection of lower floor windows. Fifty-one buildings, including houses, shops, and the Thayer Street School were razed from the site of the quadrangle. The school had been deeded to the University by the city in exchange for Ames House at 121 Power Street. The architects tried, but in vain, to incorporate the Powel House, a Victorian mansion at the corner of George and Brown Streets built in 1865 by Thomas Poynton Ives Goddard 1846 into the plan. In September 1951 students were living in five of the nine housing units, although some construction-related work still went on around them. The quadrangle was dedicated on June 1, 1952 on a rainy day when Governor Dennis J. Roberts, architect Thomas Mott Shaw, contractors Thomas F. ’33 and William J. Gilbane ’33, and Arthur B. Homer ’17, chairman of the student housing board and donor of Wayland House, participated in the laying of the cornerstone.
The buildings were named for two Brown presidents and seven alumni, among them two Secretaries of State, three professors, a public health superintendent, and the man who led the Housing and Development campaign to finance the Quadrangle: Marcy House for William Learned Marcy 1808, Governor of New York, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State, Olney House for Richard Olney 1856, Attorney General and Secretary of State, Goddard House for William Giles Goddard 1812, newspaper editor and professor of moral philosophy and belles-lettres, Diman House for Jeremiah Lewis Diman 1851, professor of history and political economy, Sears House for Barnas Sears 1825, president from 1855 to 1867, Wayland House for Francis Wayland, president from 1827 to 1855, Chapin House for Charles V. Chapin 1876, professor of physiology, and superintendent of health in Providence, Harkness House for Albert Harkness 1842, professor of Greek, and Buxton House for G. Edward Buxton ’02, chairman of the Housing and Development Campaign which built the Quadrangle.
Sharpe Refectory was named for Henry D. Sharpe 1894, Chancellor of the University. Hughes Court is a memorial to Charles Evans Hughes 1881, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and Charles Evans Hughes, Jr. ’09, former solicitor general of the United States. Field Terrace honors Harold C. Field 1894, treasurer of the University from 1934 to 1949.
Patriots Court in the quadrangle was dedicated on November 15, 1952 as part of the fall Homecoming activities. The court was so named in memory of the men of Brown who have died in the service of their country since 1775. Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett delivered the principal address at the dedication.
There are three gates in the fence surrounding the Quadrangle. The Morgan Witter Rogers Gate near the Refectory, was named for a member of the Class of 1914 and was a gift of his daughter. Cincinnati Gate in the Wayland Arch was the gift of alumni in Cincinnati. The Edward Leo Barry Gate on Thayer Street honors Brown’s popular swimming coach who died in 1943, and its funding was begun by the Class of 1944 as seniors.
The plaques which bear the names of buildings and donors and other inscriptions in NeoRoman and Italic lettering on green slate with red accents were designed by John Howard Benson of Newport. The Corporation named the quadrangle for President Wriston at its meeting on August 16, 1955, on the occasion of his resignation. The plaque on Wayland House, lettered “SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE,” reminds the reader that one need only look around to see his monument.