The Old Brick School House, 1769 (PPS Offices)
The PPS offices are located in the 1769 Old Brick School House (24 Meeting Street), which has a long and illustrious history as a site for assembly and education. 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.
Shakespeare’s Head Building, 1772
21 Meeting Street has been known as “Shakespeare’s Head” since colonial times. Also known as the John Carter House, the building is a square, three-story structure 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 Shakespeare’s Head Association acquired 21 Meeting Street in 1938, and ownership was transferred to the Providence Preservation Society in 2016. The offices of the Junior League of Rhode Island and other tenants are located in the building.
Shakespeare’s Head Garden
The garden behind the building known as Shakespeare’s Head is also stewarded by the Providence Preservation Society. 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.
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, Bartlett Pear Trees, Lady Fern, Herbacious Peony, False Fern, Herbaceous Peony, False Indigo, Quince Tree, Linden Tree, Currants, Wisteria, Cork Tree, and Goatsbeard.