Marvel’s Marvels

By Emily Gold Boutilier / March / April 2003
June 22nd, 2007
Even though Marvel Gym was quietly demolished last summer to make way for new athletic fields, fragments of it are showing up in unexpected places. An enterprising New York construction company salvaged slates off the roof. The University put the cupola in storage for possible future use. An alumnus has two ticket windows in his basement.

Perhaps the most imaginative scavengers, though, are four artists who are converting a Providence mill into condominiums. For bathroom doors they’ve installed Marvel’s unusual copper-clad interior doors.

When David Stem, one of the artists, first saw the doors in the gym, he was unimpressed. They were, after all, painted a drab brown. “I just kind of scraped through the paint on a whim,” he recalls. When he found copper beneath the paint, he could hardly contain his excitement. Stem and his three partners (including Clay Rockefeller ’03) led the effort to strip, polish, and seal the doors, returning them to their original glory.

Other Marvel jewels weren’t so lucky. Most of the white marble in the showers was demolished, although Peter Mackie ’59, a research associate at Brown, did save a few slabs. He also grabbed the fluted columns, about 500 bricks, and the ticket windows, all of which he hopes the University will one day use. “It was,” he says, “like a death vigil for me.”

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March / April 2003