Historic Structures

Warren-Bache House, Bristol Rhode Island

Date added: July 30, 2010 Categories: Rhode Island House

The Warren-Bache House was built by Russell Warren in 1807. The house was designed for William Van Doorn, a Bristol tailor of modest means. The house is simple in plan and detailing yet expresses the grace which was to mark Warren's architecture. Warren, a young and aspiring architect who had skill yet no reputation, perhaps, was enticed by the prime location of the property as he bought it for his own residence seven years later. Siting himself in the vicinity of the DeWolf family, he gained recognition and success by designing three expensive and elaborately crafted houses for them at this time. Warren only lived at 86 State Street until 1823. Due to Warren's collaboration with William Bucklin on the Providence Arcade he was to broaden his commissions as well as his style. Warren's style ranged from early Republican with it's delicate Adamesque proportions and variety of detail to the more sober proportions and bolder mannerisms of Greek Revival.

The plan of the original house is a two and a half story, five-bay facade with gable roof and full cellar. Four equal sized rooms were symmetrically divided by two chimneys and central stairhall. The house was built on a wood sill with twelve posts. Trimmer logs supporting the hearths are tenoned flush into the girts, and the joists running north and south are tenoned into them. The planking was nailed to one side or the other of the sill and grits, and was probably double on the outside and single at interior partitions, of full 1" boards with about 1" between. The floor is single thick full 1" and the exterior is sheathed with clapboard.

The alterations which occurred at 86 State Street in 1956 were made by George L. Howe. Howe removed an ell which existed in the rear of the house. The ell prior to demolition was where a kitchen had been located. Howe modernized the house by installing a kitchen and bathroom in the southeast section of the first floor. A brick beehive oven exists adjacent to the west chimney in the cellar. Speculation can be made which would suggest that the original summer kitchen was in the basement and the ell itself was used as a rear access to the cellar and summer kitchen below. Howe did major exterior repair and restoration as well. About 16' of the sill on the North side was replaced. The Palladian window on the second floor had the new sill put In. The front door was repaired by Oliver Lemaire. New steps of 2" x 10" were salvaged from the ell and used to rebuild front exterior stairs. The south exterior wall was faced with new clapboards. On the interior the inside window shutters were sanded down to raw wood and all curtain hardware was removed. The original black and white diamond painted floor pattern in the front left parlor was repainted. The basement brick foundation walls were reinforced with concrete and the corner of the south wall was replaced. A cracked beam under the southwest corner was jacked up and pipe columns were set under two stone hearths. Lintels were placed over four south basement openings. He also added an oil fired humidifier hot air furnace. The exterior was painted and a tree against the south wall was removed.

Historically the Warren-Bache House and the lot on which it sits, holds significance in the development of Bristol. Before Warren built the house the property was the site of an alarm post for the Bristol train of artillary instituted February 12, 1776. Today in front of the lot there is a granite plaque commemorating the historic site. Bristol was a town which flourished from the trianglar trade. There was prosperity to gain from her docks. State Street known early on as Court Street or Pump Lane, ran inland from the wharfs. This placed it in the center of the central trade district. The The people who were to buy the house after Warren used the house for their occupations as well as their domicile. Dr. Lemuel Briggs used the house for his practice. His heirs were to sell the property to Miss Evelen Bache, a descendent of Benjamin Franklin, who used it for a school. Miss Bache lived at 86 State Street for 63 years. In the annals on local social history her name carries much fame. George Howe purchased the house from Bache's heirs in 1956. Howe was an architect of distinction and authored several books including a prize winning novel. It was Howe who did the alterations and restoration work in 1956. An outbuilding that used to exist in the rear of the house is believed to have serviced the Baptist Church members until their church was built in 1814. Near to Bristol's two hundredth and fiftieth anniversary (1930), Miss Bache wrote a short historical account of the house. In this she mentions an outbuilding known as Briggs Hall, said to have been a drill hall and office for the Bristol Train of Artillary.