Calling all shoppers: You can now live inside America’s oldest mall.
In 2008, the Westminster Arcade mall in Providence, Rhode Island, shut down, facing a fate similar to other malls throughout the country, which waned in popularity as people increasingly turned to online shopping.
But everybody loves a comeback story, and the Westminster Arcade, which is now usually referred to as “the arcade providence,” certainly has one to call its own. The architecturally striking, historical mall is enjoying a second life as a lively mix of retail, dining and living space.
Lining the second and third floors of the mall are 48 micro-lofts, nearly all one-bedroom or studio units, and the living spaces range from 225 to 800 square-feet. When the lofts opened a few years ago, rent started at just $550 for the smallest units, appealing to young, on-the-go professionals who didn’t mind living in small quarters. Since then, the units have remained popular, and the management company has a running waitlist.
The mall—an exquisite Greek Revival-style building complete with iconic columns, marble and granite—was built in 1828 and landed on the Providence Preservation Society’s “10 Most Endangered Properties” list after it closed its doors in 2008. Four years later, Northeast Collaborative Architects unveiled a $7 million reuse project to help restore the landmark building, re-imagining the space to include the micro-lofts.
The lofts are on the second story of the building and the walkway that runs along the second floor is still reminiscent of a mall.
But you don’t have to live here to enjoy the arcade at providence! On the lower level, there’s room for 17 shops or restaurants. Here you’ll find Livi’s Pockets, a nod to Middle Eastern street foods, and Rogue Island Local Kitchen and Bar, which partners with nearby farmers to create a seasonal menu. Or you can go on a treasure hunt at Carmen & Ginger, a chic vintage boutique
The arcade is located in downtown Providence, which has been dubbed a “creative capital,” and is home to the Rhode Island School of Design and culinary school Johnson & Wales. If you’re just visiting, we recommend you plan your visit around one of the city’s stunning WaterFire festivals, where volunteers light the city’s rivers on fire for a multi-sensory display.