Originally slated as a commercial business venture, local businessman Cyrus Butler sought to create a community hub where business owners could present their trades for profit in the early 19th cenury. To emulate the outdoor-indoor malls commonly found in Europe, architects Russell Warren and Tallman & Bucklin desgiend a lane of shops that would be illuminated by a glass gable roof. Completed in 1828, the three-story Greek Revival building sat in Providence, R.I.'s downtown district, welcoming buyers to check out the goods it housed. The problem was that once they were inside, no one felt inclined to go past the first floor. This endangered it for years to come.
By 1944, talk of the razing the site threatened the mall, pushing preservationists to save it. By 1976, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, but continued to fail as a business hub. Finally, local officials deemed it "financially obsolete" in 2008, and closed it down. But as housing prices and demand for spaces surged, officials decided to alter its original purpose and turn the the space of the second and third floors into 38 microunits, along with eight larger spaces.
To learn more about this renovation, head over to WebUrbanist.
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