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158 Bowen Street, detail

Looking Good, George C. Arnold!

96 Washington St.

We’ve all been watching the restoration of the George C. Arnold building with great excitement. We cheered when a new roof and then windows were installed, and we’ve been encouraged by the persistent presence of construction workers even through the coldest months of winter. But have you been inside? Because as fantastic as the building is on the outside, it’s even better on the inside. Today I got to take a peek when Lori Quinn graciously gave me short tour — emphasis on short, this building has a depth of only 12.5 ft, and a total square footage of 3,500. It’s the narrowest building in Downtown Providence.

George C. Arnold Building (Caroline Stevens, 2015)
I’ve been told that its narrow form is thanks to a street widening project from 1917. Luckily, despite the lot’s slender dimensions, real estate developer, George C. Arnold, saw an opportunity. The three story building was completed in 1923. Thankfully, local developers Lori Quinn, her partner David Stem, and the Providence Revolving Fund, were likewise not scared off by the building’s dimensions. Instead, they all saw potential and teemed up to save this struggling building. It had been listed on PPS’s Most Endangered Properties list three years in a row after a 2009 fire, and was looking especially lonely ever since the building behind it was demolished for a surface level parking lot (this storyline is starting to feel a bit redundant folks). But, let me tell you . . . it looks fantastic today. Better yet, they expect renovations to be completed by June 1st.

Caroline Stevens. 2015
Renovated into what you ask? Two commercial spaces will be opening up on the bottom floor, two subsidized apartments on one half of the building (left side), and one bi-level market-rate apartment (right side) will be on the second and third floors. I’ve been inside and feel ready to move in! Take a look for yourself, and I bet you’ll want to be my neighbor.

One of the Subsidized Apartments (Caroline Stevens 2015)
View from one of the subsidized apartments (Caroline Stevens 2015)
Market-Rate Apartment, showing wall of formerly neighboring building (Caroline Stevens, 2015)
One of two Commercial Units (Caroline Stevens, 2015)
Caroline Stevens, 2015


What do you know about this building? And who can tell me what the building was that was directly behind it? Can you find me a picture?! Finally, are you also a hopeful resident? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments below, and on twitter @pvdpreservation, #mep20.

Here’s a record of what you’ve said so far 

KUDOS to Challenge Winner, Jessica David @JDinIR for correctly guessing my whereabouts. I think this might have had something to do with the fact that she participated in PPS’s recent tour of the building. Missed out? There’s still a couple more spring programs yet to come!

Originally posted on April 23, 2015