Arnold and Alice

The Arnold Block before its fire. (forum.skyscraperpage.com)

The Arnold Block before its fire. (forum.skyscraperpage.com)

The Arnold Building had a serious fire in, I think, 2007. Its owner, Pat Cortellessa, who once ran for mayor against Buddy Cianci, lacked sufficient insurance to undertake repairs. This past year the Arnold was taken by eminent domain and the city has apparently found a developer – a young couple, I hear – who plan to turn it into two ground-floor shops and, I think, three apartments above, one a duplex. This is great news for downtown!

I would be very surprised if the Providence Revolving Fund, run by Clark Schoettle, and the Providence Preservation Society, which gave it birth and then independence, did not have a very major hand in making sure this charming edifice was not torn down by Big Parking.

The Alice Building. (durkeebrown.com)

The Alice Building. (durkeebrown.com)

The Alice Building, developed as residential lofts in 2004 by Buff Chace’s Cornish Associates, had as its primary ground-floor tenant a wonderful place called tazza caffe (lower-case), which became sort of a neighborhood hangout – I used to go there a lot when I lived in Chace’s Smith Building – his first residential rehab. Tazza was renovated, but Cornish decided (they say) to kick it out and turn it into three separate retail spaces. It seems the tapas place from across Westminster will expand into part of the old tazza space. I am told that they will be getting rid of the frosted glass that I think may be one reason the space was (apparently) considered poorly used by Cornish. The frosted glass diminished its window-on-the-world view that, I thought, was its chief asset. It also looks as thought they will be adding fenestration that opens to the street. Bravo!

Christopher Ise, of the city’s planning office, has kindly sent me plans from the respective developers of these projects that were the subject of a recent Downcity Design Review Commission meeting that I tried to attend but missed. The two sets of PDFs send to me by Chris are linked as follows: Arnold Building and AliceFacade.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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