A self-guided tour
of Providence City Hall

Completed in 1878, Providence City Hall is one of the best surviving examples of a public building designed in the French Second Empire style. Like many public buildings built after 1850, it was designed in the manner of the Louvre and Tuileries Palace in Paris, France.

These buildings have a mansard roof rising above a parallel-eaved parapet. The distinctive feature most immediately defines City Hall for many first-time viewers.

City Hall is a freestanding, five-story building, facing Kennedy Plaza and bounded by Dorrance, Washington, Eddy, and Fulton Streets.

The exterior is richly articulated with engaged columns, string-courses between stories, and a colossal, two-story aedicule framing the main entrance with a bust of city founder Roger Williams in the pediment.

The building rests atop what was part of the cove tidal water basin. Though the cove was filled by 1898, the unstable footing required that.an artificial foundation be built upon piles driven deep into the underlying hardpan. Large blocks of granite rest on these pilings, providing a secure anchor for the building.