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The Fox Point / Wickenden Street Bath House, located next to the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, was constructed in 1926 according to Resolution 208 of the Commissioner of Public Works. This resulting structure was a brick, 1-story building with a slate hip roof and monitor. As early as 1913, the City of Providence had began constructing public bathing facilities in an effort to mitigate the obvious health dangers associated with the poor living conditions typical contemporary tenements, namely the lack of indoor plumbing, overcrowding and poor ventilation. Not only did bath houses such as this encourage frequent bathing and thereby help neighborhood residents to stay clean and healthy, but they further served as social centers and community meeting places.

A 1953 zoning law requiring hot running water in all residential buildings proved the death knell for the bath house. The 2,500 square-foot building was last used by the city from 1960-1970 as a library and later as a storage facility. When it was included on the Most Endangered Properties list in between 1998-2003, the low-profile structure suffered from vandalism, pigeon infestation and a leaky roof. Still the building was fundamentally sound.

SAVED: Finding a new use for the Fox Point / Wickenden Street Bath House proved challenging enough that PPS included the property on the Most Endangered Properties list for several years. Public interest in seeing that the old bath house restored kept the cause alive. In fact, there was so much support from the community that the city pledged $500,000, from the Providence Public Buildings Authority (PPBA) and Ward One Bond Money, to cover the estimated cost of rehabilitating the building. The long vacant Fox Point / Wickenden Street Bath House became part of the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School library.  

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.