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The Dirt Palace

Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House (Wedding Cake House)

The Dirt Palace 2
The Dirt Palace | Courtesy Dirt Palace Public Projects
The Dirt Palace 1
The Dirt Palace | Courtesy Dirt Palace Public Projects


The Dirt Palace at the Wedding Cake House was an ambitious restoration of the historic 514 Broadway property formerly occupied by the Tirocchi sisters and their couture design business. The purpose of the renovation was to expand the Dirt Palace offerings to include a project-based artist residency program for mid-career artists geared towards the intermingling of local, national, and international artists. It also allowed us to develop new audience-based programming through innovative short-term rentals to arts, history and preservation-oriented tourists. While staying at the Wedding Cake House, they become audiences for work by the hundreds of artists whose work is installed in the building, as well as for the artists in residence we host and other arts programs within the region. This is done while simultaneously providing an earned income stream to support our other programs and facilities.

Renovations began in 2017 with work to secure the buildings envelope and a complete overhaul of plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. We kept the original steam radiators, and reused as many lighting fixtures as possible, often rewiring them ourselves or with the assistance of volunteer electricians. We kept the basic layout as intact as possible. We built a total of only 4 walls to adapt the structure to our future use. We preserved a good deal of original plaster and worked with an incredible team of artisans and artists to repair details ranging from plaster crown molding to parquet floors to blown glass lighting fixtures. The project invested nearly $1.3 million into the historic resource and utilized State Historic Tax credits in addition to state grant funds.


Preserve Rhode Island and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission | 2021 Rhody Award