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Preservation grant creates new arts space

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Journal photo / Andrew Dickerman Martina Windels, president of the board of the Hive Archive, stands outside what will become an art center.

Preservation grant will transform industrial building into art space

BY KAREN A. DAVIS

Journal Staff Writer | December 1, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- For decades, the round, red brick building off Manton Avenue near Aleppo Street was noted for its shape and the fact that it stands as a testament to the industrial days of old.

Now the Hive Archive, a local arts organization, is making plans to turn the 19th-century building into a women's art collective, a place where art produced by women is created and supported.

The Hive Archive is one of six Providence agencies and one East Providence organization that will receive state preservation grants.

The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission announced yesterday at the Slater Mill in Pawtucket that it would award grants of $1.5 million to 24 museums and cultural art centers across the state.

The grants, which were awarded last year and this year, have been used to pay to maintain and repair lighthouses, art museums, armories and theaters. The initiative was financed by a $3-million bond referendum approved by voters in 2002, which allowed the commission to dole out the grants in $1.5-million increments over two years.

A similar $3-million bond referendum that passed last month will allow it to continue through 2006, officials said.

Edward "Ted" Sanderson, executive director of the commission, said the grants, which range from $5,000 to $100,000, will go a long way toward helping nonprofit agencies preserve the state's rich cultural history.

While some preservation initiatives have focused on maintaining privately owned building, Sanderson said, the core of the preservation program has focused on sites owned by nonprofit organizations.

"I think these grants are crucial in helping local organizations maintain these historic buildings," Sanderson said.

The Hive Archive, which will receive $22,500, will use the money for masonry and structural work on the building that it bought 18 months ago, according to Martina Windels, president of the organization's board.

The organization has spent recent weeks doing demolition at the site and plans to begin construction in the next two months, she said. The work is part of $204,000 project to restore the facility and convert it to an arts collective that will offer display space and studio space.

Windels said the organization has raised about $93,000, including state grants.

While many other historic museums and art centers are housed in wooden structures, Windels said, the Hive Archive is unique because it is located in a brick industrial building.

The Atlantic-Delaine Gasometer dates to 1852 and was used to make and store the coal-based gas that was used at the nearby Atlantic Mill complex, Windels said. It is one of only two or three gasometers left standing in the city, she said. The Hive Archive will also use the building for art exhibits and performances.

Also in Providence, Rhode Island College will receive a $100,000 grant to help convert Cottage C -- an 1885 building on the former state orphanage grounds -- to a museum, according to Sarah Zurier, a spokeswoman for the commission. The project will cost $1.2 million.

Trinity Repertory Company will receive a $100,000 grant to help complete $367,492 in repairs to its Lederer Theater headquarters, 201 Washington St. The money will help restore the stained glass dome in its lobby.

The Rhode Island Indian Council will receive a $60,434 grant to help repair windows and finishes in the ballroom of Algonquin House, 807 Broad St. The project will cost the organization $167,631 to complete. The council bought the gigantic building -- which once housed the Steere Nursing Home -- several years ago for its headquarters. It leases space to a wide array of community organizations.

The Museum of Natural History and Plantetarium, in Roger Williams Park, will receive $30,000 toward a $45,000 repair project.

And the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum will receive a $6,000 grant to help fix its chimney and repair a water problem that has plagued the facility. The building at 199 Hope St. serves as a living museum for an Ocean State family and is heralded for its architecture and period decoration.

In East Providence, the East Providence Historical Society was awarded $5,000 to complete outside work on the Hunts Mills Amusement park building, which was built in 1905.

Sanderson said the $1.5 million in grants will support projects that total more than $16.8 million in historic preservation restorations. The commission estimates that for every dollar invested, $10.25 of preservation activity is generated.

Applications for the 2005 grants will be available next spring.

From The Providence Journal

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