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74 Dexter Street

Our Buildings and Facilities

The Old Brick School House, 1769

Brick School House History Report Cover (RK)

The 1769 Brick School House has a long and illustrious history as a site for assembly and education and PPS is proud to continue that honorable tradition. The history of the School House includes establishment of a free public school, a school for African American children, a cooking school, and a fresh air school for tubercular children. 

Click here for a complete history of the property. (pdf)

Shakespeare's Head Building, 1772
(PPS Offices)

PPS offices are located in the building at 21 Meeting Street that has been known as “Shakespeare’s Head” since colonial times.  Also known as the John Carter House, the building is a square, three story one with a low hip roof, a center chimney, and a five-bay façade.  The name “Shakespeare’s Head” recalls the colonial era when the building was used as a print shop and post office by John Carter, who had trained with Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.  His family lived upstairs.  The writing-related enterprises inside were advertised by a sign featuring the head of Shakespeare on a pole outside the building.    

John Carter built the house in 1772 and published the city’s first newspaper, The Providence Gazette, here until 1793.  His family continued to live in the house after the print shop and post office were moved to Market Square.

The property belongs to the Shakespeare’s Head Association. The offices of PPS and of the Junior League of Rhode Island are located in the building.

Shakespeare’s Head Garden

The garden behind the building known as Shakespeare’s Head, located at 21 Meeting Street, belongs to the Shakespeare’s Head Association, a nonprofit organization that is responsible for the building and property. Following the 1938 hurricane that devastated much of Providence, the garden was redesigned by landscape architect James Graham in the Colonial Revival style.  Since then, it has been modified slightly to simplify maintenance and more accurately reflect the earlier Colonial period of the house itself.  

For many years, landscape design and care was provided by Shakespeare’s Head Association board member Lalla Searle, a landscape architect who also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The Barbara S. Gwynne Fund, established at the Rhode Island Foundation, contributes funding for the ongoing care of the garden.

Garden Plan

Plant List: Carolina Silverbell, Common Lilacs, Thift, Foxgloves, Rosa Mundi, Scotch Rose, Fothergilla, Native Columbine, Gas Plant, Dwarf Viburnum, Tree Peony, Common Boxwood, Magnolia, Germander, Rose of Sharon, Barlett Pear Trees, Lady Fern, Herbacious Peony, False Fern, Herbaceous Peony, False Indigo, Quince Tree, Linden Tree, Currants, Wisteria, Cork Tree, and Goatsbeard.

Garden images