William Bailey House/Dominic Hall Maggie Vernon

Groundbreaking for the William Bailey House, also known to Providence College as Dominic Hall, began in 1848. The building was designed by an unknown architect as a stone faced Italian Villa style Revival.

Form and Structure

basic floor plan of Dominic Hall includes two and a half stories with a four story octagonal tower which creates an asymmetrical aesthetic. The main doorway is raised above the ground and is accessed by a series of steps. The door itself has an arch and is covered by an above balcony. Pillars flank the door supporting the above covering and decorative woodwork makes the entire appearance visually appealing. The entry way is positioned in the center of the front façade and on either side are two octagonal masses of different proportions. On the one side is the tower which reaches four stories each clearly articulated by stone stringcourses. The windows on each floor are of different types and sizes which further exemplify the Italianate renaissance dominic_hall_018.JPGstyle. On the left side is an octagonal shaped massing that mimics the adjacent tower yet wider and shorter. The building from most angles is orderly, with clear articulated windows and doors. The circular and octagonal shapes seen in the front of the building are not visible on the side nor in the back which has purely rectangular walls and angles. Several different roof styles are employed for the different parts of the building, including an octagonal hip roof as well as a traditional gable roof covering the back of the house. The Dominic house is built using large grey stones that support the structure. The two interior chimney’s stand on either side of the house and also add to the support system of the structure.

Architect and Patronage

The original plan for the building was designed by an unknown architect. Dominic Hall was built for William Bailey to be the main house for the William Bailey Estate nicknamed "Hopewood" (Jane Jackson, Providence College Archives). The Italianate building that resulted reflects the interests of Bailey and his estate. As a popular style during this time, Bailey exemplified his knowledge of current movements in architecture when building this Italian Villa Style revival. By appropriating a style popular in Europe and doing so in an innovative fashion, he was able to impress visitors to the estate as well as onlookers. Moreover, in using such a style Bailey was able to create a sophisticated and elegant main house that displayed his wealth and social status. The nickname "Hopewood" further exemplifies Bailey's interests in creating a new and prosperous life in the American Colonies.

Dominic_Hall_005.jpgThe building was later sold to the Diocese of Providence in 1904 and was then occupied by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The house became a convent home for wayward girls and the building of cloisters began in 1905 under the architects Murphy and Hindle from the firm Murphy, Hindle, and Wright. All the existing estate buildings were remodeled and tunnel was constructed leading from the Bailey House to the Maintenance building (Jackson). The changes made to Dominic Hall were in an effort to better suite the building for its new occupants and their religious and spiritual interests. By 1911 the construction of the cloisters was finished including the walkway leading from the house to what was then theDominic_Hall_013.jpg Penitence Building and now St. Joseph's Hall (Jackson).

In 1955 the house was bought by Providence College and became home to the College's president Father Robert J. Slavin, O.P. The house underwent renovations which included the construction of a chapel, kitchen, recreation and T.V room as well as a garage. In 1966 the college renovated the building once more deciding to historically restore the original features of the house. The renovations were lead by architect Lloyd Baker Smithfield and were finished in 1972. The recreation room was eliminated, the kitchen remodeled, as well as the guest rooms and bathrooms. All the original fire places were restored and the original wood in the entry hall was newly exposed. Later in the late 1990's the house was yet again remodeled and refurnished so that it could better suit the college's needs (Jackson).


The building was built intended to serve the needs of the Bailey family, their servants, as well as their estate. This includes living in a comfortableDominic_Hall_006.jpg manner as well as having enough space and facilities to entertain guests. This is evident in the interior design and floor plan of the house. On either side of the front main hallway are two adjacent parlor and living rooms. Both rooms would have been used for family living needs as well as for entertaining guests. Behind these two rooms are two more mirroring each other on either side of the hallway. One of these rooms is the dining room and the other is a music room equipped with a grand piano. Finally in the very back of the building is a kitchen that leads out to the back patio and yard. There is a back staircase from the kitchen that leads up to the bedrooms. Both floors of the upstairs are built with several living areas that include sitting rooms, bedrooms as well as bathrooms. On the third floor there is a study with stairs thDominic_Hall_011.jpgat lead up to the top of the tower from which one can see the vast skyline of Providence. A view from one of the tower's window is shown to the right of the page.

Over the years Dominic Hall's function has changed according to its owner. During the time it was owned by the Diocese of Providence it served as cloisters and the convent home for wayward girls. Today, its original function and aesthetic has been preserved. Dominic Hall is home to the Providence College's President Father Shanley, O.P. and Vice President Father Sicard, O.P. The house is used to entertain alumni and donors to the College. The renovations made earlier in the 1990's and 2000's were meant to restore the elegance and artistry of the original building.


Today The William Bailey House is set amongst the educational and residential buildings at Providence College. In 1848 when it was built, the surrounding area was mostly rural country side and woods. The building is harmonious with nature for it uses a natural stone in a neutral color that works cohesively with the trees and landscape surrounding it. Furthermore, the irregular massings yet ordered aesthetic mimics the spontaneous order that is found within nature itself. The Bailey House, although harmonious with the surrounding nature, does not get lost within the landscape and instead is impressively displayed. When the buildings of Providence College were built around the Bailey House, they too intend to create a unified aesthetic. Although many of the buildings around Dominic Hall are built of red brick, the grey stone used in the building is seen in the neighboring St. Dominic's Chapel as well as in the Veteran's memorial and plaza that exist in front of the chapel. The difference in the grey stone and red brick of the surrounding buildings serve to distinguish the Dominic House as an important structure on Providence College's campus. Thus, the beautiful architectural details of Dominic hall prominently stand out to the passer-by.


During the mid 19th century, American architecture sought to appropriate and reference historical buildings that reflected the democratic ideals of the society. Americans wanted to prove their legitimacy as a nation and consequently this ideal was reflected in architecture and styles that were appropriated from other cultures. Furthermore, architects wanted to display their new found knowledge of pasvicmn.jpgt cultures and were unconcerned with creating a novel and unique American architecture (Leland Roth, 206). Consequentlystmartin.jpg, styles such as Greek and Gothic revival were very common at the time the William Bailey House was built in the mid nineteenth century. The Italian renaissance and Italian Villa Style revival originated in England during the 1830's and 1840's (Roth 186). The style was then brought to the United states by architects such as Richard Upjohn (Roth 186). In Portland, Maine, The Morse-Libby House designed by Henry Austin is an example of the asymmetrical Italianate style that is similarly seen in the Dominic House. It also has a four story tower and stone facade as well as steps leading up to a central door (Roth 186). Another Italian Renaissance revival house can be seen on Providence College's Campus, The George Bradly House also known as Martin Hall. This house, like the Morse-Libby House has an asymmetrical and irregular design that include a four story tower. Martin Hall is also built of stone, but is more less rounded and more angular in its design. Martin Hall was built only a few years after Dominic Hall and exemplifies a different aspect of this Italian revival style.


Roth, Leland. A History of American Architecture. (Canada: Westview Press, 2001).

Jackson, Jane. A History of Providence College Buildings. Unpublished Manuscript: Providence College Archives.

Morse-Libby House. http://www.victoriamansion.org/hist.html .