Rhode Island State House: The People’s House

“Beautiful, isn’t it? I think it was voted one of the most beautiful State Houses in the country," I recall a Lyft driver telling me, as he drove me past the front façade of the Rhode Island State House during PrideFest. It was the first time I had properly seen the State House. I still remember how I nodded in earnest, gazing at the dome lit up in rainbow colors, and topped by the Independence man that I could just make out in the dusk. A brilliant white, neoclassical structure crowned with the fourth largest self-supporting dome in the world, the Rhode Island State House sits on top of the hill overlooking the rest of Providence. Though lil Rhody is the smallest state in the US, it boasts a glorious capitol. When construction of the current State House started in 1895, Rhode Island was the richest per capita state [...]

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Arcade Providence: Micro-Living in America’s Oldest Shopping Mall

Along Westminster Street, beautifully lit ionic columns and granite steps greet visitors at the Arcade Providence. Built in 1828 in the Greek Revival style, the Arcade is, to this date, the oldest indoor shopping mall in the nation. Having stood in downtown Providence for almost 200 years, the Arcade has weathered storms, hurricanes, and floods. The wooden banisters have been visibly curved and bent as the ground beneath the Arcade has shifted over time. It is astonishing that the building still stands prominently in its original location, its façade still intact. Photo by Jane Kim While much of the building harkens to its historic past, with cast-iron rails and banisters outlining the floors, it has also accommodated changes over time. The original stone and brick walls of the interior have been neatly covered to create a clean, modern space. Black-and-white photos of the Arcade line the central [...]

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Barnaby Castle: Peeling Paint and Poisoned Whiskey

“Everything just takes time,” Kaitlyn sighs as we sit together in the cozy but luxurious living room of Barnaby Castle, with afternoon sunlight seeping in the bay windows. Gazing around the room, my eyes catch on odd items that suggest that more than a family’s legacy lives among the curated, antique furniture and vibrant upholstery – a freshly pressed pair of pants draped over the arm of the couch, a steaming cup of tea, a book that appears just a little too modern. Kaitlyn Frolich, who describes herself as the “lady of the house,” is one of the souls who lives in Barnaby Castle. She shares the burden of restoring the house with the building’s owner and manages the house’s downstairs rooms’ function as an event space to raise funds for restorations. Photo by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios Since moving to Providence fifteen years ago, Kaitlyn has [...]

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Shipping Container Buildings: From Steel Shipments to Modern Architectural Fads

Half a mile from bustling Atwells Avenue, in a more industrial district with sparsely located buildings, a vibrant blue, green and yellow structure stands out in a dry, grey streetscape. A dazzling splash of color in a former lumberyard overlooking train tracks, it resembles an assemblage of bright Lego blocks. The Box Office on Harris Avenue, completed in 2010, was built from 37 upcycled shipping containers, and offers an eco-friendly, energy-conserving office space. Photo by Jane Kim Instead of stacking up the shipping containers into one neat rectangular building, the architects at Distill Studio overlapped the shipping containers irregularly, crisscrossing them so that the containers jut out in different directions. The effect is a unique, modular structure that allows stairways and mini outdoor patios that connect the containers, as well as individual front doors into each office; it further allows windows and doors that, along with solar [...]

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The Cathedral of St. John: Race and Reconciliation in Rhode Island

The American slave trade was integral to Rhode Island’s early economy; between 60% and 90% of Rhode Islanders were connected to the Colonial and Post-Colonial American slave trade as ship builders and crew, insurers, and financiers. State residents were also involved in more indirect ways, including as iron and firearms manufacturers and farmers and food producers in South County. Rhode Island sat at the center of New England’s power in the business of international slave trading. Slavery is thus at the core of Rhode Island’s founding story. The Cathedral of St. John, which sits on a contained but expansive campus on North Main Street, offers a similar narrative. I can spot the tip of the stone cathedral’s clock tower from Benefit Street, and it grows before me as I walk the winding brick paths down the hill, through the cemetery. Though the exterior of the building appears indestructible, the [...]

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Night at the Museum: Ladd Observatory

From science fiction fantasies, like Star Wars and Stardust, to modern lovers soaring through space in the Griffith Observatory, (yes, that’s Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land) outer space has always sparked our imagination, inspiring an endless array of books, films, and media that portray constellations as a source of magic and epic tales. Indeed, stargazing appears to be the ultimate romantic venture that takes little else than a leisurely night stroll. It was with much anticipation that I visited Ladd Observatory, thrilled by the sheer idea of a room filled with gadgets for stargazing. One of the oldest observatories in the country, Ladd is thick with the kind of character that only builds with time.  A historic outpost of Brown University's campus, it sits on a secluded corner and rises above the treetops in a quiet neighborhood with few, if any, tall buildings. A spherical [...]

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