On a recent visit to the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston I discovered a book of paintings of 1830’s Providence by Edward Lewis Peckham. “A Painter of Old Providence” appeared in The Journal of American History, volume VI, No. IV, 1912, and included an article by Mr. Peckham’s nephew, Stephen Farnum Peckham. This article (and additional material from two subsequent issues, volume VII, No. 1 & 2, 1913) were re-issued as a limited-printing booklet, and it is from that booklet that I photographed many of these paintings and drawings. The remainder are clipped from the Internet Archives copies of the journals, linked above.
Clicking each image will show a larger version.
This beautiful view of Market Square was drawn in 1835, looking east. In the foreground is the large bridge and one of the shops on it has a sign “Books.” How I wish I could visit. You can see the First Baptist Church in America in the background.
View of Providence from the East Bank, 2 miles down the river around 1843. On the right is Fox Point.
The Fox Point shore, 1832, a place famous for baptisms. “On a calm Sabbath morning the gentlest splash of an oar could be heard; and at this distant day a favorite hymn of “Oh happy are they, who their Saviour obey,” sung as the newly-made converts walked slowly to the land, is still sounding in my ears.” — Edward Lewis Peckham
The Old Town House stood on the corner of College and Benefit Streets, and was torn down in 1860. Built in 1723 as a place of worship for the Benevolent Congregational Society, who sold it to the city in 1795, the building saw many church services of all types, and civic activities from around the time of the American Revolution and Dorr’s Rebellion. Later, it was used as a low-level court and police station. Today the spot holds part of the sprawling Rhode Island state court house.
At one point, the long low building seen at India Point was used as a bowling alley.
The American House hotel, 77 North Main Street.
The view of the Cove is from 1846. On the right is Canal Street; Steeple Street enters it at the first brick building. The cove, where the Woonasquetucket and Moshasuck Rivers converge on the harbor, and the tide flowed in and out, was a fixture of early Providence. Today, the old Union Station buildings sit at the center of what, below, is water. Visible to the left is the outline of the old jail.
Red Bridge, looking east from below the bridge, 1832.
The south part of Benefit Street is the view from Thomas Peckham’s house, circa 1834, looking at the corner of Transit Street.
— Paintings and drawings by Edward Lewis Peckham
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