With the start of a new year and Providence Preservation Society set to unveil its annual "Most Endangered Properties" list on January 23, it's a good time to think about historic preservation. This week brought both good news and bad news on that front.
First, the bad news: The 1871 Alexander F. Adie house on Federal Hill (right by the arch) is being demolished, supposedly clearing the way for a hotel. While the eventual result could be good or bad – that remains to be seen – we can all agree that it's sad to see an iconic structure razed. Both Greater City Providence and ArtInRuins have been documenting the demolition and soliciting reactions.
On the brighter side of things, the good news is that the City has announced a transfer of ownership and redevelopment plan for the George C. Arnold building, known as the "Narrow Building" donwtown. It's an overdue revival of one of PPS's former "Most Endangered Properties." Washington Street has really come alive over the past few years with AS220's revamp of the Dreyfus and the new and improved Biltmore Garage. Allowing this unique structure to remain vacant and blighted was a real impediment to that progress, and we're excited to see the Taveras administration making a move on it.
What do you think of these projects, and other historic preservation (or not) efforts around the city? Tell us below.
The holidays are always one of my favorite times of year, not so much because I like the holidays (which I do), but because it’s around that time that I’m interviewing the individuals featured in our annual “10 to Watch” story, as featured on page 18. These are always interesting people with fascinating, unexpected stories and fresh, compelling ideas to share, but one of the things I like most is getting to see Providence through their eyes.
I’ve spent my whole life in or around this city, and I have the privilege of making a living highlighting its best parts. So, while I may have a deep and abiding love for it, being that much in the thick of things every day makes it easy to lose perspective. Talking with our 10 to Watch always realigns my perspective.
What’s always shocking (though perhaps it shouldn’t be anymore) about this roster of rising stars is that every year, without fail, it turns out that more than half of them are not native Rhode Islanders. Many of them have traveled extensively or lived in many other places – most have at least lived in another major metropolitan area – yet all of them are in Rhode Island simply because the want to be. That’s a very powerful thing.
We are bombarded on a daily basis with information and opinions telling us what a lousy place Providence is: how our economy is crap, our taxes are too high, our schools are lousy, there are no jobs, it’s unsafe, it’s dirty, it’s corrupt, it’s too small, it’ll never be New York or Boston, there are no opportunities. We’ll shout ourselves hoarse trying to make it known how bad off we are. Yet these people are not getting the message. Despite all the warnings and bad press, smart, cosmopolitan, forward thinking, engaged individuals still find Providence a desirable enough place to be that they will not only come here, they will do the work necessary to build a life here – and then make it a more attractive place for others to do the same.
As someone who has always feared the sharp end of a stick but who secretly wishes she could “make it work” with Tim and Heidi on Project Runway, I was excited to visit Kreatelier, the unique craft and gift store tucked away on Hope Street.
Not only does Kreatelier offer a wide range of hand crafted goods, most of which were created in house by the lovely ladies who work there, the shop also offers sewing classes for children, adults, and in my case, for those who have grand dreams of one day debuting at NYC Fashion Week. You know, if I could only thread the sewing machine without suffering some bloody mishap.
Before booking my appointment, I had to figure out what exactly I wanted to make. After perusing Kreatelier’s extensive list of suggested items which I found on their website, I settled on a zip pouch wallet that can fit a phone. Watch out Marc Jacobs, I’m coming for you.
Upon entering the shop I immediately felt a sense of comforting warmth and joy. My instructor Alexis Cormier greeted me with such a bubbly, positive attitude that the nervousness I had was diminished by her enthusiastic passion for craft.
Because of a time crunch factor, Alexis had already pieced out some fabric for my pouch. While looking at the material in my hand, I simply couldn’t imagine how I was going to make them into something even resembling a wallet, but hey, if I want to schmooze with the likes of Donatella and Tyra one day, then I simply had to remember Mr. Tim Gunn’s infamous phrase and make it work.
First we ironed the pieces in the store’s back room, which serves as a workshop for Kreatelier’s employees. Then, the part I feared, the part with the sharp object hammering up and down in close proximity to my delicate hands, arrived.
Making sure my fingers were not in danger of getting sewn human centipede style, I tentatively pressed my toes downwards on the pedal that powers the machine, making it explode with life.
Eee! That was too fast! …
Twitter is great for connecting people to their favorite celebrities, but you might not have realized it’s also useful for connecting people with common interests... in the same town, even. Here are some Twitter-based Providence meetup groups. You might even run into me (and my Twitter BFF Corey Feldman) there.
Girls’ Pint Out @RIGirlsPintOut: A ladies-only beer lover’s group.
Providence Geeks @ProvidenceGeeks: A tech-minded group that meets for dinner once a month to discuss robot kisses and hardwired dreams.
Providence Coffee Society @PVDCoffee: A buzzworthy meetup you’ll lose sleep over
Wordpress Providence Meetup Group @WordpressPVD: Bloggers of the city unite
Providence UX Meetup @PVDux: A group for the “Providence user-experience and interactive design community” that’s probably too smart for you
Clambake @ClambakePVD: A meetup group for the design obsessed. Don’t show up if you can’t identify your clothing by Pantone color
The weather may be cold, but fashion is still hot. StyleWeek Northeast returns for its showcase of talented local designers. Shop the accessory showcase every day before and after the shows, no tickets necessary. Weekend tickets sell out in advance but weekday tickets are available online or at the door. ￼January 19-25.
See the Wicked Witch of the West and Glenda the Good Witch as children in Wicked, the musical for people who don’t normally enjoy musicals. It’s a spin on the beloved tale The Wizard of Oz, set to music. Get to know the real Wicked Witch (who may not be as wicked as everyone thinks). Head to the Providence Performing Arts Center and revisit the classic story in a way that will leave you thinking... and singing. After all, the production hasn’t won a Grammy and three Tony Awards for nothing! January 2-12. Check website for showtimes. 220 Weybosset Street. 421-2787.
Believe it or not, 2014 is already here at Providence Monthly. Our annual "10 to Watch" list hits newsstands next week, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek at who we're keeping an eye on this year.
Visael “Bobby” Rodriguez
Leah Williams Metts
It was a good year. My family was healthy and as happy as one could expect. Our drafty house is still standing, and we finally repaired the front steps. My son Henry learned how to play “Bohemian Rhapsody’’ on the piano. (Mama, ooooh.) My other son Peder wrote a nice short story about an old man who trekked into the forest to die and did, inside a giant tree. My husband continued to cook our nightly meals, grand feasts that muted the world’s chaos. Oh, and the Red Sox won. Wow, what a series. A poster of Dustin Pedroia, the dogged leaper, is tacked to Peder’s door. I wanted to display it in the kitchen, but was overruled.
This year was also good because I got to write a bunch of columns for our great neighborhood magazine. Some essays were more memorable than others. Some were well-received by readers; a few were not. (I’m still trying to figure out what Dutch meant when he called me a “willfully ignorant ninny.’’) Many of my columns came to you compliments of the people who tolerated my prying questions – and that included my teenage sons. Thanks guys. I promise that from now on you get to read the columns before they’re published and have final say on any edits. Note to Peder: I will never call you my “beloved firstborn’’ again. Without further rambling, I offer abstracts on a few submissions from 2013.
I Don’t Appreciate That
I’ve always disliked confrontations, but lately I’ve been getting upset over things that I used to be able to shrug off. Maybe I’m getting old and cranky. Maybe the world really has gone wrong. But I’m an adult with children and should handle myself with more restraint. I’d like to thank Aaron Rodgers, QB for the Green Bay Packers, for setting me on my way.
I liked what he uttered on TV when a Packer fan told him he was short. Rodgers was ridiculed as a kid for his height, although he grew to be 6 feet 2 inches. That tactless comment on TV obviously bugged Rodgers, but instead of taking …
Something about the immediate gratification of buying local produce directly from a farm works up a sweat similar to that of winning small on slot machines, and in this dire state of perspiring satisfaction, it’s time to cool off with a cold one from Bucket Brewery. Only a short walk away from Hope Artiste, the brewery is now offering tastings and tours every Saturday.
For less carbs and more carrot juice, take a longer stroll to Benefit Juice Bar & Café, located near Wickenden. This recently established neighborhood juice bar and café serves made-to-order juices, whole fruit smoothies, fair trade coffee, baked goodies, house-made soups, sandwiches, paninis and seasonal salads.
Blah, blah, blah - enough with the health food, right? Let’s get back to the beer: the Rhode Island Brewer’s Guild VIP Banquet takes place on January 31, from 6-10pm. The event includes a four-course dinner with beer pairings from local breweries. Tickets are limited to only 200 people and must be purchased online.
While the show may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the rarified charms of Downton Abbey, the popular PPS series, seems to have a rabidly loyal fan base. We’re not sure exactly what will be offered, but there will be a showing of the first episode of 2014 season four before it airs nationally, on January 3 at the Park Theatre in Cranston. We understand there will also be a pre-screening party to boot. For more details on what to expect, visit their website or call their box office at 467-7275. Since the Park Theatre is basically on one level, we assume this Downton Abbey won’t have special upstairs or downstairs seatings.
There are certainly many ways to celebrate the beginning of the New Year around here. There are New Year’s parties to be sure. First Night or Bright Light or whatever it’s called. Polar Bear Plunges. But in a state where politics remain the true blood sport, the new year also marks the official opportunity to declare one’s candidacy for office. This year promises to be a lively one as several candidates have already declared themselves for office and others will officially do so later this month; Providence itself will be especially busy, as five candidates have already stepped forward to fill the vacancy that will be created by Mayor Taveras’s decision to seek higher office himself. Announced so far: Democrats Lorne Adrain, Brett Smiley, Jorge Elorza with Michael Solomon about to follow suit
The Internet is a very powerful tool and Alexis Ohanian has discovered a way to harness that power. He is the co-founder of Reddit, the widely popular social media site where members post and share a variety of material from all over the Internet.
Ohanian has also founded other successful sites such as Hipmunk and Breadpig and has been voted to Forbes "30 under 30" list twice. He just recently published his first book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed, which took up the fourth spot on the New York Times bestseller list for business. He represents the "dorm room start-up" dream and has a lot of valuable insight about how to use the Internet as a tool.
RISD welcomes Ohanian this Friday for a discussion with Walker Williams (Co-Founder of Teespring). He will speak at the MacMillan Hall Auditorium at Brown University and sign his book from 6:30-8:30pm. Visit RISD's web site for more info.
Narragansett began brewing beer in 1890 and apparently that was good enough for the state of Rhode Island for over 100 years. It wasn’t until Trinity opened their doors in 1995 and started brewing their own beer that we had another RI beer choice. Then, in the last few years, the craft brewery scene has rapidly expanded, bringing more options to the people.
Another holiday season is upon us and so is the stress of gift shopping. Make this year's experience a positive one by avoiding the lines and the frustration at the big box stores. Little Rhody may be small but we’ve got plenty of independent retailers where you can find unique gifts for everyone on your list while having an enjoyable holiday shopping experience (yes, it's possible).
Want another reason to shop local? We’re giving away a $500 Local Shopping Spree and it’s super easy to enter. All you have to do is sign up here for our email newsletter the Pulse. It's full of events, news, cool stories and giveaways from all around the state. Needless to say, you want to be a subscriber anyways.
Blue Door Studio, Cranston
Bottles Fine Wine, Providence
Bristol Yoga Studio, Bristol
Core Fitness & Pilates Mind/Body Studio, Providence
Feet First, Wakefield
Granite Photo, Westerly
Green Ink, North Kingstown
J. Marcel, Providence
Peaceable Kingdom, Providence
Plante Jewelers, Swansea, MA
Shoppe Pioneer, Providence
Stock Culinary Goods, Providence
Studio Hop, Providence
Sweenor’s Chocolates, Cranston & Wakefield
The Catering Gourmet, Warwick
Tickle’s, Swansea, MA
Waves of Creation, Wakefield
Westerly Jewelry, Westerly
ZuZu’s Petals, Cranston & East Greenwich
It’s the perfect drink and you can serve it as a punch. The last thing you want to be doing as a host is making drinks all night. Mix together in a lovely punch bowl...
1 liter of Grand Marnier
64 oz. of pomegranate juice
1 oz of cranberry bitters
(angostura, orange bitters or any kind of aromatic bitter will work) and 2 bottles of champagne
A block of ice
Owner Marc Allen says, “ladies can come in, have an amazing assortment of beverages, tasty food, listen to great music and shop till they drop for their loved ones... all the while knowing that they’re saving 20% on their total purchase.” For the event, the store is bringing in special items: handmade cufflinks, Loro Piana scarves, bracelets and cashmere socks that make great stocking stuffers. Complimentary valet only sweetens the deal. Who says holiday shopping isn’t fun? 200 South Main Street, December 12.
One of the most beloved holiday traditions returns to Providence much to the excitement of many. Visit the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Lost Christmas Eve. The orchestra’s acclaimed rock opera is a captivating onstage performance with lights, lazers and pyrotechnics; it tells the heart-warming tale of loss and redemption on a magical Christmas Eve in New York City. Grab the whole family; this show is not to be missed. Luxury suites are available (and make a great gift!)
December 18, call 680-4716 to reserve. $41.50-$71.50. 7:30pm.
Where else can you see toy soldiers, giant mice and a Sugar Plum Fairy? At PPAC’s performance of The Nutcracker, of course! Come see the beloved ballet about one girl’s magical adventure.
December 20-22: 8pm Friday; 2pm and 7pm Saturday & 1:30pm Sunday. $23-$85.
Before Multiverse Comics opened on Broadway in October, Providence was missing what its owner, Brandon Amorin, calls “a neighborhood comic book store.”
“In the ten years or more that I’ve lived here there hasn’t really been a comic book store you could just walk to,” he says. Amorin, who is friendly enough to be the Bizarro-version of The Simpsons’ sarcastic Comic Book Guy, has imagined opening a comic book shop since his days of organizing new release bins in exchange for Snickers bars and a weekly stipend of comics as a kid.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and I’ve always loved comic books. I figured if I’m going to do something for myself it’s gotta be something I love.” Multiverse is small, but has big aims to satisfy a long felt need in the city’s geek community.
“I’m trying to have a spot where I can talk to people who’re into the same sort of stuff that I’m into. We offer a spot where you can hang out when you’re on your way to the café or downtown to work. It gives everyone another reason to interact with other people who are interested in the same sorts of genres.” 265 Broadway. 223-2112