Mayors of the City of Providence



15. Henry Rodman Barker (1841-1903)

Served January 1889 to January 1891 (Republican)

Birthplace: Providence. As a young man, Barker took a leave of absence from his post, as clerk at the Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company, to fight for the Union Army during the Civil War. After his second term he retired, but the lure of public service was so strong that Barker ran once again for mayor six years later. He was director of the Industrial Trust Company, the Rhode Island Electric Protective Company, the Narragansett Electric Lighting Company, and the Eagle National Bank. (Portrait located on the fourth floor)


16. Charles Sydney Smith (1828-1907)


Served January 1891 to January 1892 (Republican)

Birthplace: Warren. A self-educated man, Smith attended school for only three weeks each winter when he was a boy. He fought for the Union during the Civil War, and later founded jewelry manufacturer Saxson, Smith and Co. It is reported that his reelection failed because of his vigorous campaign to combat illegal activities among a tolerant electorate inclined to look the other way. He served as president of the United Wire and Supply Company, and was a member of both the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Rhode Island State Senate. (Portrait number twenty-nine, located in the Archives)


17. William Knight Potter (1844-1914

Served January 1892 to January 1894 (Democrat)

Birthplace: New York City. He became the city's second Democratic mayor, and the first after the Civil War. Potter was Chairman of the City Democrat Committee, and served as a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He was also a candidate for the United States House of Representatives. (Portrait number nineteen, located on the fourth floor)


18. Frank Fuller Olney (1851-1903)

Served January 1894 to January 1896 (Republican)

Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey. He was descended from Thomas Olney, who was an associate of Roger Williams during the settlement of Providence in 1636. Olney studied law, but never practiced. He was a strong supporter of military organizations and served for three years as Commander of the 1st Light Infantry Veterans Association. A great philanthropist, Olney was an extremely popular mayor and an avid sailor. (Portrait number thirty-two, located in the Archives)