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I am not dead

September 28, 2009 at 5:47 am

… and I am slowly getting back to work. I’ve been helping friends with projects, enjoying summer, and swimming a lot. also bike riding. I’ve also been working on a bunch of self-figuring-out, which is ongoing and in progress! Some crazy romantic stuff has gone down. Two of my best friends and project collaborators, Andrew Oesch and Meg Turner, are about to leave town: AO for some epic travels on a balky diesel schoolbus, Meg for an exciting & challenging job in a far-away city where she has always wanted to live. Summer has been awesome, lovely, and really intense — but I haven’t gotten much work done. Now, by necessity (both financial, deadline-wise, and psychologically) it’s time for some work to happen… hopefully I’ll be able to write more here soon about projects in progress.

bucklin street warehouse

I’ve seen this building since forever on one of my often-traveled bike routes through Providence. For as long as I have known it, it has been covered in vertical painted metal sheathing (as seen above, under the cornice), with a smattering of small windows along its length. I had always assumed that it had a metal structure as well. Earlier this month, they started pulling the metal off, revealing insulation, many windows, earlier brick-pattern asphalt shingles, earlier wooden siding, and its original wooden structure. Man, just look at all those windows!!!! (It seems like it’s being renovated, which is a relief — I’m tired of watching buildings disappear.)

A couple of weeks ago I caught it in this great state of semi-dismantlement, as the workers were stripping it down to the original wooden board sheathing. Meg & I returned the next day & peeked inside as well as we could. I was delighted by all the overlapping layers, the history made visible. (Also one of my favorite things is fake brick patterning on anything!) Meg loves the point at which the forces of human action and natural disintegration are in balance upon a building: the time frame between when the building has been neglected to weather and age, but before it collapses — a realm of possibility…

bucklin street warehouse - short end

Looking at these photos now, I feel a strong kinship to this building. Its outer layer is pulled off, and what’s revealed is kind of patchy, not very well fitted together, and possibly a little precarious. However, what is now visible is more true and more real than its former, tacked-on facade was. The insulation and the weatherproofing is gone, so the building is more vulnerable to the elements and to external forces… but the source of its strength is clear. However, it is obviously a work in progress, under construction, and changing constantly even as we speak…


  1. Wow. Where is that? I don’t recognize it right away. By the flatness of the ground and absence of trees, and given where your common bike routes might presumably go, I’ll guess that it’s adjacent to the railroad corridor, though I thought I knew those buildings somewhat well. Well, not nearly as well as a person on a bike would (a simple perceptual phenomenon that really hits me when I do occasionally bike around myself).

    Comment by mark sawtelle — September 28, 2009 @ 8:15 am
  2. hi mark! It’s off of Dexter St, south of Cranston St, across the street from the renovated Rau Fastener complex. They’ve pulled all the old siding(s) off now, so it doesn’t have that great patchiness any more. However, they are doing a really fascinating remaking of the foundation: it looks like they have propped up the building from the inside with scaffolding, and have torn away almost all the crumbling bricks from underneath the structure, leaving a couple of piers for stability. When I biked past last week, the building seemed to be floating, like a giant wooden ship, elevated in drydock. Amazing!

    Comment by jean — September 28, 2009 @ 3:42 pm
  3. (also worth a visit if you’re in the area is the “Spanish & Virginia Peanut Company” warehouse store, 2 blocks down at the corner of Dexter & Bucklin. They sell mostly to candy makers and street/carnival vendors, but will also sell nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. to you!)

    Comment by jean — September 28, 2009 @ 3:48 pm
  4. jean,

    it’s so wonderful to see you posting again, and what a beautiful post to come back with.

    outer layers being pulled off! patchy, ill fitted revelations! more truth being exposed! vulnerability! sources of strength!

    i love it! i can’t what to hear what develops.

    oh..and the building restoration is pretty sweet as well.

    Comment by eric — September 30, 2009 @ 12:27 am
  5. Glad you are back, I have missed you, and your building is absolutely lovely!!

    Comment by deb — October 12, 2009 @ 5:48 pm
  6. Jean, thanks for the location info. I don’t think I’ve been by it, though I used to drive past the Spanish & Virginia Peanut Company all the time when visiting Andrew.

    Comment by mark sawtelle — October 27, 2009 @ 2:32 pm
  7. i’ve loved this building for a long long time.

    Comment by graham — October 29, 2009 @ 2:17 am

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