Main Streets 2017: Rhode Island
Local food, active recreation, and hands-on community-building define downtown life in the smallest town in America’s smallest state. And Main Street, also known as Rte. 114, runs through the center of it all.
“Galleries, shops, and theaters dot the historic district, while redevelopment of the old American Tourister factory promises new possibilities,” noted Boston Globe correspondent Megan Lisagor Stoessell in a 2017 article, “Warren, R.I. Is Where It’s At.” “Already the options for sophisticated dining and drinking are multiplying,” she added, with growing local businesses “breathing life into empty buildings against a backdrop of boatyards and farms.”
The local food scene is being nurtured on Main Street, where the nonprofit Hope & Main is nurturing new culinary businesses in a century-old former schoolhouse. “Hope & Main’s nonprofit incubator program supports dozens of food-related companies, including specialty food product makers, artisanal bakers, caterers, food trucks, farmers, personal chefs and nutritionists,” says the organization’s website.
Warren itself is a historic community, with one of the nation’s oldest working waterfronts, a strong Native American heritage, and a relatively large Latino population compared to surrounding towns. Four former downtown industrial buildings have already been renovated into retail markets, craft workshops and offices. Throughout the compact downtown, “a robust art scene has formed, especially around the preservation of historic sites,” noted the American Planning Association when it named this one of the nation’s Great Neighborhoods.
A favorite local arts venue on Main is the Galactic Theatre at Podsnappery. Owned and run by musician David Podsnap, this is an intimate spot where up to 50 people at a time can catch a film, grab a drink or dance to live and DJ’d music. Nearby on Market Street is the 2nd Story Theatre, host to live plays and theater-related events.
Bristol has an art museum and several downtown galleries, and the arts are also front and center in several regular events. Bristol/Warren Art Night brings artists, arts advocates and business owners together for educational programs, with open studio tours once a month from June through September. The Warren Quahog Seafood & Art Festival features fresh seafood and original artwork — what could be better? — on a waterfront park in July.
“Warren isn’t following a trend,” said local business owner Sara Ossana in the Globe profile. “It’s just people doing what they love.”
Primary photo taken by Marcbela
Town Hall photo taken by Flickr user cmh2315fl.