The Mercantile Block
In 2008, AS220 purchased our third downtown building, the Mercantile Block, located on Washington Street and directly abutting the Dreyfus. This four story plus basement building totals 50,000 square feet and presents a tremendous opportunity to provide still more spaces for artists to live, work and create in Providence, reinforcing our reputation as the “Creative Capital”.
In the last decade of the 19th century, city records tell us that the site now occupied by the Mercantile contained a laundry and then a scale repair shop on the Washington Street side. On the Martha Street side was a good sized livery where horses and carriages could be boarded or hired. The Mercantile of today dates back to 1901 and is actually composed of several buildings that were joined over time. In recent years the building was owned by the Cohen family and known as the home of Cogens Printing. Every effort has been made to restore the historic beauty of this mercantile building; throughout the building you will find hardwood floors, exposed architectural detail and exceptionally high tin ceilings that replicate the tin pattern original to the building. The buildings facade was entirely concealed from view has been painstakingly restored to its former grace.
AS220’s adaptive re-use of the historic Mercantile Block provides for a vibrant mix of live and work studios, arts related offices and one-of-a kind, local retail and commercial spaces. Especially noteworthy is the effort to revitalize Martha Street. Original building openings have been uncovered and restored, creating a beautiful and highly functional set of entrances, replete with glass sidelights, transoms and storefronts. Once regarded as a “back alley”, Martha Street was transformed into a vibrant pedestrian way, greatly animating the neighborhood and enhancing safety. The Street was renamed Lucie Way in honor of Lucie Searle, the Historic Preservationist responsible for the re-development of AS220’s three buildings
First Floor & Lower Level
AS220 Program Space & Commercial Tenants
Two long time Mercantile tenants, Clark the Locksmith and The Stable (formerly Wheels Bar), continue their tenancy in the building in new and very improved spaces. Viva Mexico! restaurant also occupies the first floor, as well as the AS220 Industries. The first floor offers a bicycle storage area and mailbox alcove for tenant use.
Non-Profit Offices & Individual Work Studios
Floor 2 contains 11 studios, several of which have been joined to provide larger spaces. The second floor tenant mix includes the AS220 Industries (the Community Printshop, AS220 Media Arts, and AS220 Labs), several non profits such as College Visions and the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities (RICH), some individual work studios and 2 common bathrooms.
Third & Fourth Floors
Floors 3 & 4 contain a total of 22 residential studios ranging in size from 600 to 880 sq ft and the building’s 4th floor residential laundry facilities.
On the basement level of the Mercantile, there are 3 spaces between 250 and 430 sq ft utilized by musically-inclined members of AS220’s staff and the artists in residence at our three buildings.