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UNLOCKING THE DOORS OPEN RI FESTIVAL

Behind-the-Scenes at Beneficent Congregational Church

I stood plastered to a long wooden beam, my fingers crossed as I tried not to glance down the narrow wooden staircase I had climbed up. I was standing on cold feet atop one of the steps that led up to the cupola at the top of the dome of Beneficent Congregational Church, and felt a sinking knot in my stomach. I could see all the way down the narrow stairway, built from uneven slabs of old timber, winding in an ascending circle to the small opening at the top. I could hear Francesca, who co-writes our blog at Doors Open RI, talking in a muffled voice to Matt Hird, a church member who led us through the church. The church, established in 1743 after separating from the First Unitarian Church, has always held an important role in downtown Providence, serving as a community gathering space and school in [...]

By |Festival Blog|

The Benefit Street Arsenal: 175 Years and Counting

“The army is always reorganizing,” General Richard Valente repeats to me with a knowing smile. We sit together in the ground-floor room of the Benefit Street Arsenal, which once served as the training space of the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery (PMCA). The General describes a civil war era newspaper photograph depicting cannons lining the north wall of the drill floor. Today, the walls are decorated with grand military portraits and prints, American flag buntings, and wooden plaques with gold writing commemorating each battle in which the PMCA and 103rd Field Artillery have fought. The dark wood moldings and pale green walls become the space of military history as General Valente walks me around the room, with his small-stepped, military gait and hands folded neatly behind his back. The Arsenal was constructed in 1842. The PMCA was initially in charge of construction, but the state assumed ownership of the [...]

By |Festival Blog|

Providence Public Library: Preserving Prints, Photographs and History

When people can access the news from their phones, read the latest New York Times bestsellers on Kindle, and look everything up on Google and Wikipedia, it’s no surprise that libraries are less sought out as centers for information as they once were. Yet visiting a library offers a palpable personal experience that cannot be replaced by virtual apps. Founded in 1875, Providence Public Library (PPL) offers free access to educational programs, digital collections, expert staff, and books! The historic building is also home to rare Rhode Island collections, inspiring artifacts and thought provoking exhibits. At first sight, the façade of the building from Washington Street gave a grandiose impression with its Classical Revival style entrance and elevated double stairways. The Empire Street entrance is much its opposite, a simple, modernist addition leading to a space full of books and bustling librarians. Tonia Mason, the marketing director of the library, [...]

By |Festival Blog|

From Textile Manufacturing to Flea Market: The Evolution of Atlantic Mills

“The building always reminded me of an old wrestler. It’s been beaten up by hurricanes and uprisings and changing times, but still has strong bones,” our program director, Caroline Stevens, said thoughtfully as we pulled up in the parking lot facing Atlantic Mills. One of its two red brick towers, was missing its cupola, making it appear worn but resilient in the rain, much like a weary wrestler. While Providence is a city dearly loved for its various quirks and historic mansions, many don’t appreciate that it was also once an important industrial hub. Indeed, Olneyville’s Atlantic Mills was one of the nation’s highest producing textile mills in the 19th century. With its introduction of the George H. Corliss steam engine in 1852, the mill served as a model for textile mills across the country. Today the complex houses new businesses and a weekend flea market. A single rectangular [...]

By |Festival Blog|
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Jane Kim

Jane Kim is an aspiring writer studying literary arts at Brown University with a focus in fiction. She is also an avid traveler, art lover, and helpless caffeine addict.

Jane’s LinkedIn

Francesca Gallo

Francesca is a student at Brown University studying the intersection of community engagement, sustainability, and urban planning. She also dabbles in processed-centered dance performance and choreography, a love fostered by her semesters studying at New York University.

Francesca’s LinkedIn