Old Stone Bank, Providence Rhode Island

The Old Stone Bank, designed by C.J. and J.R. Hall in 1854, is located in Rhode Island’s capital of Providence. In 1898, Stone, Carpenter and Wilson, Providence’s leading architectural firm, was commissioned to renovate and extend the building. Stone, Carpenter, and Wilson also designed a number of buildings including the Pendleton House, the Royal C. Taft House, the Union Station of Providence, the Providence Public Library, the King House, the Providence YMCA Building, the Mason Building, the William Wilkinson Building, the Providence Telephone Company Building, the Barrington Town Hall, the 1893 Rhode Island Building, the William Slade House, the Sayles Gymnasium at Brown University and the Brown University’s Ladd Observatory. The Old Stone site also includes, apart from the Old Stone Bank, the Benoni Cooke House. The Benoni Cooke House, built-in 1828, is a Federal-style building that served as a branch office for the Old Stone Bank ((formerly known as the Providence Institute for Savings). This ground floor underwent renovation and an addition of a greenhouse element in 1982. As designated by the Providence Historic District Commission, the Benoni Cooke House and the Old Stone Bank building are situated in the College Hill District and a National Register District.

Both buildings (Old Stone Bank and Benoni Cooke House) underwent restoration by the Boston architectural firm Ann Beha Associates Inc, which was the lead consultant commissioned by Brown University. Brown University bought the Stone Bank Building in 1995 to house the Haffenreffer Museum, which was formerly known as the King Philip Museum. It was founded during the 1900s as Rudolf H. Haffenreffer’s private collection of archeological finds. In 1928, the collection later expanded to include New World Relics. When Haffenreffer’s passed away in 1955, his family turned the museum over to Brown University. The museum was renamed Haffenreffer museum in honor of its original owner. Since then, the collection continued to grow.

Brown University acquired the Old Stone Bank building and the Benoni Cooke House from the Resolution Trust Corporation. This acquisition is part of the plan to transfer one of New England’s anthropology museums to Providence. One of the most noticeable features of the Old Stone Bank Building is its imposing gold dome. This very distinct element has been significant in defining the Providence cityscape. When Brown University purchased the Old Stone Property in 1995, the gold-domed Old Stone Bank Building became the focal point of the museum. The Haffenreffer Museum has eleven galleries which house exhibitions and other projects. To house other galleries and to bring people closer to the dome’s interior, a second floor was built. The Old Stone Bank Building was made more accessible and occupant-friendly. Additional restrooms and passenger elevators were installed. The structural reinforcements were fortified and improved.