This Providence Resident Recreates Rhode Island Landmarks with Legos
Andrew Grover has built more than two dozen Ocean State inspired models since the idea first struck in 2016.
Inspiration struck at the dentist’s office, of all places. As Andrew Grover was getting his teeth cleaned in Warwick one day in 2016, he looked out the window and saw the soon-to-be-closed, circa-1935 Aldrich Junior High School.
“I was thinking about how lovely it was, and I was disappointed that it was going to sit vacant,” says Grover, who grew up in Cranston and now lives in Providence. “And then I had a desire to make it.”
Not being “a pen and paper person,” Grover headed to his parents’ house, dug out his dusty childhood Legos and started constructing a model of the building — grand columns and arched doorways and all — out of the iconic interlocking plastic bricks.
Since then, he has built more than two dozen models of Rhode Island landmarks. They include several historical schools (Cranston East, Mount Pleasant High School and Carl G. Lauro Elementary, among others), as well as the Providence Public Library and Providence’s Union Station.
Grover’s work has been made possible through grant funding and commissions from the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts, PVDFest and the Rhode Island Foundation — and generous donations of Legos from the public.
“Anyone with kids knows that Legos can be expensive,” he says.
While he acknowledges the whimsical nature of his creations, Grover emphasizes the serious message behind them.
“I hope Rhode Islanders look at these buildings, especially some of the underappreciated, older public school buildings, as cultural landmarks to be cherished and preserved,” says Grover, who previously worked as a high school science teacher. “Aesthetically, many of these buildings are gorgeous, but we don’t seem to respect them the way we do many private schools.”
He wants “public school kids,” like him, to feel proud of their homes away from home. The idea is: If someone is taking the time to make a model of their school, it must be important.
Recently, Grover took on a different type of project, one commissioned by Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism. He created a model of a vision for a revitalized, more pedestrian-friendly North Main Street, based on the findings of a Department of Planning and Development study.
And he’s thinking even bigger in 2023 and beyond.
“I would love a dedicated, permanent attraction where people could come to look at models of buildings of Providence,” he says. “I’m thinking entire historic streetscapes.” rilegoartist.com