School House Capital Fund

The Old Brick School House

Nowhere is the power of place more relevant than the home of an organization devoted to preserving and revitalizing the city’s historic fabric. PPS owns and stewards the 1769 Old Brick School House at 24 Meeting Street. The building has a long and illustrious history as a place for assembly and education. Early in its 250 year history it was a munitions factory during the Revolutionary War, but later primarily served the citizens of Providence as a free public school. Education was its reason for being. It was one of the nation’s first free public schools for African American children, it housed Brown University during construction of the College Building, it was a cooking school, it was the nation’s first fresh air school for children with tuberculosis, and it later became the original site of the Meeting Street School. Read more about the building here.

Those deep layers of history reveal the true value of this beautiful old school house as a center for education. History is vitally alive inside this building, and its message of the value of preservation and the power of place resonates with visitors. This visible example of an old building brought to new life and meaning shows why stewardship is so important. PPS is honored to be the caretaker of this place where thousands of individuals have passed through and left their mark.

Our next era goals for the Old Brick School House are to bring it into compliance with modern building and fire codes, make both floors universally accessible, and expand the use of the building for engaging and informative educational activities and visitor services.

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The Power of Preservation Education campaign will make the Old Brick School House suitable for expanded educational programming by:

– Transforming the building to meet all current building, ADA and fire code, making both floors accessible to all visitors and members of the community while also retaining the look, feel, and materials of a 250-year-old building.

– Making interior modifications to accommodate expanded educational programming and exhibit space to teach and inspire the next generation of advocates for Providence’s unique sense of place.

– Creating a dedicated resource library space to house the unique collections of historic books, maps, and photographs in the care of PPS, making them accessible to visitors and researchers.

– Enhancing PPS’s role in heritage tourism by modifying the building’s interior layout to make provision for rotating, interpretive exhibits about historic preservation, Providence architecture and landscapes, and the complex narrative history of the site itself—including its central role in the history of access to public education for African Americans in the United States.

– Installing a “Welcome Kiosk” with information and signage to orient visitors and residents alike to points of architectural and historic interest and provide information about the Old Brick School House and the range of PPS services.


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