Fox Point Bath House, Rehabilitation & Neighborhood Revitalization Award, 455 Wickenden Street
Listed on the PPS Most Endangered Properties List in 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2003, the future of the Fox Point Bath House looked bleak until a group of neighborhood residents and elected officials, led by former city councilman David Segal, stepped forward with a renovation plan in 2005. The City of Providence built the bath house for the benefit of its citizens in 1926, but when hot running water was legally mandated in all dwelling units in 1953, the bath house became redundant. It had a short life as a library and storage facility but by the 1970s had fallen into serious disrepair. The building suffered from a pigeon infestation, vandalism, and a leaky roof yet it remained a distinctive part of the streetscape with its prairie-style overhangs and hipped-roof massing.
The 2005 plan from then-councilman Segal fell by the wayside as the projected rehabilitation costs skyrocketed. In 2007, the roof was removed as part of the environmental remediation and estimated project costs doubled. Newly elected Councilman Seth Yurdin strongly advocated for the project and successfully negotiated with Mayor David Cicilline and other City and State officials to identify additional funds necessary to complete the project. By January 2008, the $1.8 million rehabilitation of the Fox Point Bath House had been completed. Functioning as a library for the adjacent Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, the building also provides a multipurpose room for school and community use. After years of perseverance from neighbors and their elected officials, the historic bath house once again fulfills its purpose as an asset to the surrounding community. While its muted color palate and simplistic design may not make it stand out, this charming utilitarian structure is a unique and important component of the architectural landscape.