History & Awards

Built to last

The Steel Yard was created in 2001 when our founders, Nick Bauta and Clay Rockefeller purchased the heavily contaminated and under-utilized, Providence Steel and Iron (PSI) complex and repurposed it as an industrial arts resource for the community. It was launched in partnership with a broad coalition of local activists organized to address the displacement of small businesses and artists in the Olneyville and Valley Neighborhoods of Providence. The site was immediately transformed into a hub of creative, cultural and economic activity, resulting in the clean-up of contamination and the forging of lasting relationships.

Since our first weld, thousands of people have come to The Steel Yard’s shop to learn and experience the fire-arts. They are youth, students, professionals, hobbyists, and artists, and they share in our vision of a world still made by hand. Students engage in workshops, open studios, workforce training, mentorship experiences, apprenticeships, and professional artist residencies. Together we’ve built a place to all collectively experience the creative process of the Industrial Arts.




1822 Builders Iron Foundry (BIF) Established           
1902 BIF constructs a structural steel shop at the corner of Sims and Kingsley Ave ave that becomes Providence Steel and Iron (PSI)      
1921 PSI constructs the Office Building at 27 Sims Ave
1926 PSI Constructs the Ornamental Steel Building and expands the light rail tracks across the property
2001 Monohassett Mill property at 532 Kinsley Ave converted to live/workspaces
2002  Clay Rockefeller and Nick Bauta purchase the PSI site and establish The Steel Yard and Milhaus LLC.
2002 The Steel Yard (WVCB Inc.) incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit            
2003 Artist in residence begin using The Steel Yard’s studio                 
2003 Office building renovations completed                
2004 Educational courses offered to the public in Ceramics, Metals, Jewelry, and Foundry            
2004 Public Projects creates the first public trash can at Julian’s Restaurant on Broadway   
2005 Camp Metalhead               
2005 Wooly Fair 
2005 PSI added to the National Register of Historic Places            
2006 First Halloween Iron Pour in partnership with the Iron Guild                  
2007 the ‘Bash to the Future’ imagines the Yard in 2025
2008 EPA funds match local RI dollars to begin remediation of contaminants across the site
2008 Weld-to-Work job training program begins          
2010 Complete remediation of lead paint and other contaminants across the 3.8-acre site   
2010 The Yard made available for site rentals              
2011 American Society of Landscape Architects Award for Adaptive Re-use
2012 John H Chaffee Leadership Project Award from Environment Council of RI
2013 10th anniversary of the Yard is marked with a season of events and the first ‘Fire Camp’ 
2013 Silver Medal from the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
2013 First Anagama wood kiln firing with RISD ceramics          
2014 The Steel Yard becomes a polling site for local and regional elections             
2014 First public art installation on Block Island           
2015 Creation of the Mobile Blacksmithing Trailer       
2016 The Alloy Fellowship established with our first permanently restricted gift
2016 Weld-to-work 2.0 advanced training curriculum developed
2016 Graduated our 100th job trainee              
2016 People for Bikes commissions free bike racks for schools across the State of RI
2017 RISCA cultural facility bond pays for design work and beginning phases of Superstudio Renovation
2017 Camp Mudhead (ceramics) and Camp Copperhead (jewelry)                  
2018 The Steel Yard named the 100th ‘Champion in Action’
2018 Woodworking tools are donated and the woodshop officially added to renovation plans
2019 SuperStudio renovations completed, year-round programming begins!
2019 New England Foundation for the Arts Creative Economy Award


Download the 2013 Report from the Rudy Bruner Awards for Urban Excellence  

Check out the National Historic Register page on Wikipedia

Learn about The Steel Yard and PSI on the RhodeTour