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This Old Downcity

Washington Trust

Future home of Washington Trust Bank on Westminster Street at Orange Street.

As Bret points out in his post about Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new HQ building, our nation’s (and state’s and city’s and world’s) dismal economy and the credit crunch mean that we are unlikely to see any more large new buildings built anytime soon. Hopefully what we will see, is more of the above. Washington Mutual is moving their main branch from the horribly suburban, drive-thru location on Washington Street to this location (sans drive-thru) on Westminster Street. The horrid Dryvit clad ground floor exterior of this building is now giving way to a nice glass and stone facade. I understand there was a lot of back and forth with the DRC over how this renovation would look, I’ll tell ya, so far it is shaping up nice.

Snow & Westminster Streets

Corner of Snow Street and Westminster Street.

I don’t know what is going on at this building. I believe this is the current home of the State Archives, occasionally there are items on display on the ground floor, but basically it is a big hole in the retail streetwall. However, it is a stunning building, check out the second floor. Anyone know what is going on here?

In other Downcity renovations, we have AS220 renovating the Mercantile Block (aka the Cogens Building), bringing in the MIT Fab Lab and ground floor retail. And over at RISD’s Fletcher Building we have Gourmet Heaven moving into the ground floor location on Weybosset Street which was most recently the home of New York New York. Durkee Brown is doing the design work, so I expect it to look sharp.

Will the new economy bring us more of this renovation in the place of the large scale developments we’ve been seeing over recent years? I’ll miss seeing more big buildings go up, but would be thrilled to see more of our built environment be polished up and returned to former glory.

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