A loopy marker-style sketch of a sheep hangs on a welcome sign: It’s a mascot and his name is Baba. “He’s a North Star of sorts, inspired by our building’s past as a wool mill, and named aptly by our daughter,” says Everett Abitbol. Find Baba on caps and totes, and of course notepads and pens, because this is a hotel after all.
Dye House is the second entry in the growing Deacon Hospitality Group, an enterprise founded by Everett and wife Valerie. The Abitbols entered the indie hotel biz after a stay in charming San Francisco digs left them inspired and contemplating career changes. Everett previously owned and ran a transportation company and Valerie worked in fashion with operations and planning roles at Free People. A series of “happy accidents” led the pair to the historic church that would become The Deacon, their first cleverly named project in Philadelphia.
“Since graduating in 2003 from URI, we have always felt Rhode Island to be our second home,” says Everett. “We had a small home in Narragansett for almost 10 years and have family in the state. We come up five to 10 times a year and always make it a point to come to Providence for dinners or just to walk around and enjoy the city.” The couple set their sights on the former American Woolens Dye textile mill on Dike Street and worked tirelessly for nearly a year to rebrand and very recently, launch.
Look for what appears to be a small white cottage with black shutters and a wide barn door connected to an enormous mill building like a little caboose, and Baba, and you’ve arrived. Extensive renovations and stylish design have refreshed the brick-and-timber property into a stunning destination that pays homage to its architecture and setting at every turn. When it came to making interiors their own, the Abitbols enlisted Shannon Maldonado, a colleague from Philly known for her lifestyle shop YOWIE. Maldonado started her process with the aim of honoring the storied circa 1880 building. “It had a rustic, industrial feel that I wanted to warm up with color, softer pieces, and modern finishes,” she says.
Dye House has four suites: Three of which are named for textile terms, and a singular event space is known as The Studio, which locals might remember as the former ceramics studio for J Schatz; in fact, Everett notes that Jim Schatz and Peter Souza were instrumental in initial introductions around town. Each soaring sun-filled room has its own aesthetic, showcases Rhody-made wares front and center, and is outfitted to be highly functional for guests. Says Maldonado, “Everywhere you look there are reminders of the mill’s legacy mixed with rich textiles, unexpected colors, and modern rococo design. At the center of The Studio, the floor turns concave where a series of tunnels once transported wool, and the many windows louvre and pivot to enhance airflow and luminosity. Those windows enabled wool workers to achieve true colors in their dyes, and the resulting sunlight pours in from all sides, creating the ultimate natural lighting.”
With restrictions lifting, planning is underway for Dye House to host everything from food pop-ups to maker workshops at The Studio, while also being a cozy venue for weddings. “One night you might come by for a ceramics class with some bespoke cocktails and live music, or a morning of yoga and flower bouquet-making for a good cause with the folks at What Cheer Flower Farm,” says Everett. “We love to see our space used in so many different ways and use that as a way to support and grow community and friendships… and most importantly, support small and local businesses, restaurants, and live venues who have been really impacted by COVID.”