Buildings on the URI Quadrangle: Bliss Hall

Bliss Hall
Bliss Hall, 1928

Bliss Hall, the flagship of the College of Engineering since it opened it doors in 1928, is located on the northeast corner of the Quadrangle. It was named in honor of Zenias Bliss, a prominent and supportive state legislator.

The last of the granite rock quarried on campus appears on the exterior of Bliss, creating the need to use brick to complete the north side of the building.

The three-storied building included basement and attic space. Interestingly, the attic provided residency space for famed aviation pioneer Igor I. Sikorsky who taught aeronautical engineering for the college during the 1930s.

Renovations became necessary during the 1950s and 1960s as the field of engineering expanded and enrollment grew.

Today, the college offers undergraduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial and systems, mechanical, and ocean engineering, as well as a dual degree International Engineering Program that combines a field of engineering with a foreign language.

Thanks to voter approval of a $125 million bond referendum in 2016, engineering students and professors will get a new engineering building that will not only match the caliber of engineering instruction at URI, but will also enable the university to meet the state’s need for more highly-trained workers.

The stately buildings ringing the University of Rhode Island’s Quadrangle helped shape the story of the institution. Here, on the occasion of URI’s 125th Anniversary, we present you with a narrative behind the walls of that historic timeline.

**Much of the historic data in this article was culled from information provided by the late Sandy Taylor, a champion of historic preservation and land conservation, who served as University Architect from 1987 until his retirement in 2005. We are also deeply indebted to students enrolled in Catherine DeCesare’s history class last fall who provided additional information. DeCesare is a history coordinator, academic advisor, and lecturer. Finally, we would like to thank Mark Dionne, Archives and Special Collections, for his patience and vast knowledge.