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The John Avery Parker Mansion called the most imposing house ever built. (New Bedford Whaling Museum Photo)

The Grand Designs of Russell Warren; New Bedford Architecture

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Warren Avery Parker
The John Avery Parker Mansion built in 1834 (New Bedford Whaling Museum Photo).

8. John Avery Parker Mansion, 1834
Dubbed “the most imposing house ever built”, this Greek Revival mansion was similar in many ways to the Rodman Mansion and like the Rodman mansion, was also on County Street. It was bounded by County, Pearl, State and Willis Streets. Surprise, surprise, more doric columns! Mr. Parker paid $100,000 in 1834 to have this mansion built. Mr. Parker passed away in 1853, when Wamsutta Mills superintendent Thomas Bennett purchased it. His daughter sold it in 1902 and it was promptly – and sadly – demolished, except the south wing on Willis Street.


As always, special thanks go to the New Bedford Whaling Museum for generously allowing us to use these great, vintage photos. If you enjoy these photos, there are plenty more in the museum and on their online database. You will find a number of photos of these buildings in various stages.


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About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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10 comments

  1. Nice job Joe! Interesting to know he was the one behind many of the key buildings throughout NB!

    Seems he was a fan of the columns!

  2. Thanks Freddie! Yes, he sure loved his ionic and Doric columns!

  3. David Harrington

    Great article! The architect Russell Warren, was in fact, born in Tiverton, and died in Providence in 1960. He’s burried in the Grace Church Cemetery in Providence. I’ve visited his grave. He also did several buildings in Bristol and Providence. We’re having a tour of some of his Providence buildings on May 11. Contact Linden Place in Bristol for more info.

  4. Gee, Joe, is there ANY area that you do NOT wander into??? Now it’s architecture!! I just stumbled into this blog, and was immediately taken with the Russell Warren buildings. I will send a scan of a plate I have had for …years..to your email address, and it shows the County Court House, and looks a lot like a Warren design..n’c’est pas?? You can also see Palmer’s Island Light.
    I hope you check your blogs and emails occasionally, as I love to hear from you.

    Regards, Gardner

  5. Great article! However, every building in this article either has Ionic or Corinthian columns, no Doric ones. Art history classes are compelling me to speak out! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Thank you for the correction Tania! I am not an architect or artist, let alone a crappy one! I just love these buildings and wanted to showcase them. I “copied” the term Doric from one of the articles I read and being ignorant of architecture, used it.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Great article! They all look familiar,except for the Pearl St depot..that is still around?

  8. Thanks Stephan! Unfortunately, the Pearl Street Depot was too small. Perhaps, no one expected the system to become as popular as it became. It was torn down in 1886 and replaced with a larger station.

    Russell Warren had passed away 25 years prior, otherwise I’d imagine he would have lobbied for something that was Egyptian or Greek Revival.

  9. Joe, a very good story on Russell Warren. The New Bedford Institute for Savings building (now the National Park headquarters) is probably mis-attributed to Warren. The NBIS is a copy of the original Old Stone Bank (originally Providence Institute for Savings) which is attributed to C.J. and R.J. Hall. The original Providence building was identical to the NBIS building, but it was hugely modified to create the existing gold-domed building. You can see remnants of the original in the side wings. There is an image of the Providence building prior to alteration here: https://www.providenceri.com/photogallery/set/72157636691303166#

  10. Hi Kit – thanks for the kudos and reading!

    The NBIS building is actually one year older and the inverse is true: the Providence building was a copy of Old Third District Courthouse/NBIS. The NBIS building was erected in 1853 and the Providence building was erected in 1854.

    If you look at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s records they state “…a new building was constructed at 86 South Main Street in 1854, which was expanded in 1898 into its present form.” (http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/mss943.htm)

    This is also backed up by the Rhode Island State Census in 1885:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=QT7QAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=r.j.+hall+providence+institution+of+savings&source=bl&ots=w4p9cdiUBv&sig=U6NmibVkKADybxtQlNjz6KH_moE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-LQvVbqLMMHbgwSO7oOwAw&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=r.j.%20hall%20providence%20institution%20of%20savings&f=false

    Having said that, I HAVE seen the mention that the Halls are responsible for the design of the NBIS building, however I have only seen one mention of it and there is no source – it states “…research has shown.” That page has been taken down and now only accessible as a cached page.

    I am not doubting the possibility – the buildings were virtually identical. Too much of a coincidence. That leaves us with two possibilities: the Halls copied (perhaps even collaborated) Warren’s NBIS building or that the Halls are responsible for both buildings. However, these two particular Halls did not build outside of Rhode Island.

    There is definitely a story here. I will dig some more and see if I can’t access Spinner Publications archives. If you have more, I would love to see it. Please send to nbgarts@gmail.com.

    There may be an article here – if we can prove the Halls are responsible with source documents, it’ll be huge,

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