crushed steel block

Close up of crushed steel block at The Steel Yard, Providence Rhode Island.

     Summer was coming to an end. Once again it was time to make the pilgrimage to Providence, Rhode Island to move Wynn back into the RISD dorms. Just like last year we rented a Dodge Caravan and stuffed it to the roof with Wynn’s belongings. What we did differently than last year was to leave a week earlier to avoid Labor Day traffic. In addition, rather than book yet another drab hotel room we booked accommodations on Airbnb, which by the way, was founded by  RISD grads. We booked a loft at The Steel Yard, a non-profit, industrial arts school located on the campus of what was formerly The Providence Iron and Steel Company founded in 1882. 


Home Sheep Home Pagoda 
    We had planned on leaving by noon but by the time the van was packed and we pulled away from the curb it was 3:00 in the afternoon. After a long but uneventful drive, we pulled into the gated parking lot of The Steel Yard. It was dark so any exploration of the campus would have to wait until morning. Not to mention we were tired and anxious to see the loft.
crushed block of aluminum

Close up of crushed block of aluminum at The Steel Yard, Providence, RI

   The loft, set in a reclaimed factory building, was amazing. The lower level had hardwood floors, spacious open area with full kitchen, two bedrooms and large tiled bathroom  with a huge bathtub and pedestal sink. The upper level offered two additional sleeping nooks and a TV alcove complete with sofa and plenty of cushions. Many of the loft’s original appointments had been retained, like the heavy metal doors on one bedroom and copper plated sliding doors on the other. Many reclaimed objects, both decorative and functional, have been artfully incorporated into the space. The loft received 50 five star ratings so if you need to stay over in Providence I highly recommend it.


Rough brick buildings and gantry cranes.
     After a good night’s sleep I was awakened by sunlight pouring into the bedroom through two large windows. I’ve never been much for sleeping in and this morning I was anxious to explore our surroundings. I got dressed, had a cup of coffee, grabbed my camera and stepped out into the alleyway.


“Hoss,The Boss” iron furnace.




I walked the campus under gantry cranes and past brick and metal buildings. I passed sculpture gardens and ornate handmade fencing. Toward the back of the property sat a rusty iron furnace named “Hoss” which was surrounded on three sides by rectangular blocks of crushed metal. Some were identifiable, like bicycle parts, old lockers or chain link fencing. Others gave no clues as to their original form or function. Either way they looked really cool and yielded my favorite photos from the outing.

 Steel Yard Logo

Steel Yard Logo on wall


      As an industrial design major Wynn will definitely be working there as The Steel Yard has close ties to RISD and he plans on attending the Halloween Iron Pour. 

like to include people in my photos to add scale and interest but unfortunately there were no classes or events happening while we were there. Guess that just gives me more reason to go back.


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Late afternoon on Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine


The time finally came, we knew it would but we tried not to dwell on it, that time when your only child goes off to college and leaves you and your spouse alone for the first time in nearly two decades. 
It wasn’t a given, Wynn wanted to study industrial design and there are several good schools right here in Philadelphia that offer it. I suppose I always imagined he’d go to one of the local schools and live at home for at least the next few years but Wynn wanted to go to RISD and damn if he didn’t get accepted! 
Reid Beach State Park
Move in day was Sept. 6th so we decided to spend a week visiting our friends Peter and Meagan and their sons Dae and Noah who live in Maine and another week camping in Acadia National Park then move Wynn into his dorm room in Providence, RI on our way back home.


We were joined in Maine by our friends Marlene and Stephen and their son Louis and daughter Maureen who live in Germany. We had visited them last summer spending time in Freiberg, visiting Berlin and then riding bicycles to the town of Usedom on the Baltic Sea.
Pete had introduced us to Marlene and Stephan over twenty years ago when we all lived in West Philadelphia.  Wynn and Louis were born just a few months apart and had played together when they were toddlers. Marlene, Stephan and Louis moved backed to Germany after Marlene was offered a position at The University of Freiberg.


Echo Lake, Acadia National Park

We would spend the first week at Pete’s, making day trips that would include hanging out at local beaches, shopping and dining in the nearby town of Bath, visiting Pete’s mother Natalie, who lives by the Kennebec River and taking a ferry to the island of Vinalhaven. Then we packed the van and headed north to Acadia.


It was a scenic, three-hour drive from Woolwich to Acadia where we would pitch our tents at the Blackwoods campground. Each day consisted of hiking one of the many trails followed by a swim in the cold water of the Atlantic off  Sand Beach or in the slightly warmer water of Echo Lake which is located on what the locals call “The Quite Side” of the Island.  


First day at RISD 
The last leg our journey involved driving to Providence and helping Wynn set up his dorm room and assemble his bicycle before attending the official RISD welcome for first year students held in the historic First Baptist Church. There were several speakers including President Rosanne Somerson who at the close of her remarks told us to meet our son or daughter on the lawn for ice cream, then tell them goodbye, adding “They are ours now.”


It’s only been three weeks since we dropped Wynn off and so far so good. He seems to like it there and it sounds like they’re keeping him pretty busy. He is even considering joining the RISD cycling team. He calls or texts everyday, let’s see how long that lasts, and we will be going up to visit in October for Parent’s weekend.
I had a dream last week where I was working the backyard and I heard him call out “Hey!” and I turned to see him walking up the steps from the street so yeah, I guessI miss him.
 I console myself with fact that Wynn is where he wants to be and doing what he wants to do. I also know he will fit right in with all the other artsy, fartsy weirdos at RISD. I also remember the words of a friend who is also the parent of a son who went away to college, “With summer break, spring break and all the holidays they’ll still be home six months of the year anyway.”


First Day at RISD, Courtyard outside the dorm. 


Oh and did I mention Wynn left us with several hundred thousand honeybees and eight chickens?  
If you have had a son or daughter go off to college, or are a student away from home for the first time leave a comment and let me know how you dealt, or are dealing with the transition.