20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

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Art & Design

Charles Pendleton House

  • Although Pendleton House gives the appearance of a domestic residence, it was built for the purpose of displaying the collections of Charles L. Pendleton (1846-1904), which were given to the RISD Museum in 1904. Pendleton’s bequest, which included American and European furniture, silver, glass, ceramics, textiles, and paintings, came with the stipulation that the collection remain intact and on display in a suitable building for the benefit of the public. Designed by Providence architectural firm Stone, Carpenter and Willson and modeled on Pendleton’s own 1799 Georgian-style home located at 72 Waterman Street, Pendleton House is recognized as the first museum wing dedicated to the exhibition of American decorative arts.

    Charles Pendleton was an early proponent of collecting American works at the time when interest in national heritage was just beginning to flourish, and he traveled widely in search of the best examples to fill his home. Recognized by American furniture scholar Luck Vincent Lockwood as the “father of art as applied to furniture,” Pendleton contributed greatly to the study of American decorative arts and inspired a generation of collectors.

    The spaces on the first floor of Pendleton House reflect the way that Charles Pendleton lived with his collection in his own home. The second-floor installations present thematic period rooms, including Pendleton’s objects and earlier and later works selected from the RISD Museum collections.

Selected objects from Charles Pendleton House