The general scheme was developed by the architects, but all credit is due to the sculptor, Lee Laurie, of New York, a pupil of St. Gaudens, who worked out the idea of the architects with skill and integrity.

The desire was to show in the six panels a comprehensive view of the world’s civilization from its beginnings in Egypt down to modern times and covering a history of the great countries of the world.  To do this, that is, to express all the varying qualities of Egyptian, Hebraic, Greek Roman, Italian, Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon civilization, in forms that should yet harmonize with the Greek classic idea of architecture, was a difficult task and one of which Mr. Laurie acquitted himself with unusual ability.

The panels form a procession across the building.  The first beginning at the right is the Egyptian.  Following this comes a panel devoted to Greece and containing three figures symbolical of architecture, war and epic poetry.  The next panel is of a figure of Moses bearing the tablets of the law and wisdom.”

Lee Lawrie’s Pawtucket Friezes Depicting Civilization.

From 1900: This was Lee Lawrie’s very first commission, executed for Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, Architects, Boston.

“On the other side of the portico are three panels devoted to Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic civilization.  The first, beginning at the left, is properly given to Dante and shows the typical figure of early Renaissance led through Inferno in the midst of flame and lightning.  The central panel shows a figure emblematic of British Power and dominion; on one side standing King Arthur, representing Arthurian legends; on the other, Shakespeare.  The last panel is representative of Teutonic Spirit, and shows the great episode in the Nibelungenlied, where Wotan binds Brunehilde in the magic sleep.” I(Ibid.)

Special thanks to Will Morgan and Tim McDuff of the Pawtucket Public Library for sharing these images with us, and for their assistance in my research.

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