Our History

Black and white image of snow falling in front of the Library.

Our History

The Phillips Memorial Library, located on the upper campus of Providence College, was named in memory of Frank Nichols Phillips and Edith Remington Peck Phillips. In the late 1960’s, when the college decided to construct a separate building for the library, the Phillips’ daughter, Charlotte, and her husband, Edwin G. Pritchard, made generous donations towards the construction of the new building. Groundbreaking occurred on June 6, 1967, and the official opening of the library was January 6, 1969.

Charlotte’s father, Frank Nichols Phillips, was born on July 6, 1874. He was the son of Eugene F. Phillips, who was the President of the Washburn Wire Company, a manufacturer of insulated wire. The area of Phillipsdale, located about a mile west of Rumford in East Providence, was named in honor of Frank’s father, after he brought his industry to the area.

Frank graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1896, and married Edith Remington Peck on November 15, 1898. When his father passed away in 1905, Frank and his brother, Eugene Rowland Phillips, took over the company. In 1926, Eugene Rowland withdrew from the company, leaving Frank as president.

On December 9, 1949, Frank passed away, leaving behind a strong business legacy. He was the not only the President of the Washburn Wire Company, but also the Director of Phillips Electrical Works, Ltd., and the Vice President and trustee of Roger Williams Hospital. Before he died, his daughter, Charlotte, married Edwin Griffin Pritchard in 1938, and in 1940, Edwin went to work for the Washburn Wire Company, serving in various capacities. During the 1950s, Edwin directed purchasing for the company, and from 1960 to 1976, he served as president of the company.

In mid-1940s Charlotte gave birth to their son, Francis Phillips Pritchard, who later attended and graduated from Providence College in 1966. While Francis attended Providence College, Charlotte was a member of the fund raising chapter of the Providence College Veridames. From this connection with Providence College, as well as through the efforts of Father Edward A. McDermott, O.P., who was the moderator of the Veridames society while Charlotte was a member, that she and her husband came to make the substantial donations necessary for the construction of a new library. The library building was named in honor of her parents, due to Charlotte and Edwin’s abundant generosity.

Daniel Neal, Archivist Assistant – 4/1/2009