The Atlantic Design Works complex consists of a mid 1800s Gasometer, and its early 20th century addition. The Atlantic-Delaine Gasworks, built between 1852 and 1864, consists of the 50ft diameter brick rotunda, which was used to hold flammable gas, as well as the adjacent 30ft x 140ft rectangular brick (retort) building, which would have housed the furnace used to heat the coal which released said gas.
The Atlantic-Delaine Gasworks 1850- 1940
The gasworks was originally built at the same time as the second Atlantic Mill building, and would have provided for the lighting of artificial gas-lamps in the Atlantic Mill Building, as well to light local gas-lit street lamps. The second Atlantic Mill building was able to be twice as wide as the first Atlantic Mill (which relied solely on natural light) because of the availability of this new technology. The gas would not have been used to power the Atlantic Mill itself; the mill was a “steam mill”, originally using a coal-fired Corliss Steam Engine (rather than hydraulic power) to create power for its industrial machinery. Only in the late 1880s was hydraulic power incorporated, when the Atlantic Mill acquired the adjacent Union Mill.
The Atlantic-Delaine Gasometer is one of three surviving gas plants in the city of Providence (one is located in the Elmwood section; the other is in the Wanskuck Historic District). The likely period of use of these buildings as a gas manufacturing plant was only about twenty years (1864-1884), after which the mill converted over to electric-arc lighting. The building originally would have had metallic domed roof, and would have had a capacity of about 27,000 cubic feet of gas. The dome was removed in the early 20th century and replaced with a lower-profile heavy-timber roof.
Arpin Van Lines 1940-1980
After the Gasworks outlived its original purpose, it was converted to storage, and in the late 1940s to early 1950s the triangular building at the corner of Manton Ave and Aleppo Ave was built. This building was owned by Arpin Van Lines, a local moving and warehousing, company founded in 1900 which originally delivered ice and coal in the Providence area. The company is still head-quartered in Rhode Island, and now has an international reach, and is one of the top five moving services in the United States. Inside our Conference Room, one can still read the “ghost sign” that would have been painted on the exterior of the building, touting their five warehouses at that time! The building was used as office and warehousing space during this time, until the early 1980s. A vehicular scale was installed during this time period, the exterior concrete pad rests between the two gasworks buildings, and the original scale is inside the lower level of the triangular building. In the late 1950s to early 1960s the “connector” building between the Gasometer and the Triangular Building was added, and the square windows in the rotunda were punched in.
Wolf E. Myrow 1980-2000
This 60 year old Rhode Island company is based across Aleppo Street, and used this building, as well as the Retort building as storage for their jewelry supply company. This ties in with the history of Providence as a “jewelry capital of the world”—as it was a manufacturing center from the 1800s through the mid 20th century.
Hive Archive 2000-2010
In the early 2000s a women’s arts collective acquired the building, with the goal of it serving as a center for arts-based programming. They acquired a grant from the State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, which they used to restructure the roof—truncating four columns and creating the trussed ceiling which exists today. The group used the Triangle’s former bill-board as an opportunity to display public art.
Studio MEJA Architecture 2015+
When Studio MEJA purchased the building, it was an un-insulated, vacant shell, with non-functional or out-dated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. They have economically improved the building’s enclosure and systems, brought natural gas into the building (which it ironically was never supplied with), replaced the windows and added a common entrance stair from Aleppo Street. The space can now accommodate up to three separate tenants, and we hope it will continue the entrepreneurial and creative spirit the building has embodied over the last 150 years.