PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Andrew Grover is living proof that Legos aren’t just for kids.
The lifelong Rhode Islander spends most of his days hard at work in the depths of his Providence home, recreating many of the state’s historical landmarks brick by brick.
“I love the history [of Rhode Island] and the old buildings we have around here,” Grover said. “I guess I’ve taken it in a quirky direction.”
“It’s quirky and it’s fun, but it’s also serious,” he added. “I like it because it’s a medium that can be both of those things at the same time … Lego [art] can be something anybody can like and want to look at, but then there’s a serious message behind it too.”
Grover transformed into a “quirky artist” while holed up during the pandemic.
“People love Legos,” he said. “Who has ever said they didn’t like them? Maybe when they step on them … but aside from that, I think it’s something we all universally have a connection to.”
When asked how long his projects typically take to complete, Grover said each one requires a “good amount of work.”
“That’s a hard question for me to answer because I never just sit down and work for days until I’m done,” he said. “Some things get worked on a few hours here and a few hours there … you also have to order a lot of bricks, so you get interrupted by things like that.”
For Grover, the devil’s in the details.
He makes sure to take several pictures of the exterior of the building long before he starts.
“I know what I need to look for, so getting my own pictures of the outside of the building is important,” he explained.
While he wouldn’t share all of his secrets, Grover said it’s most important to emphasize the windows.
“You want to make sure the windows on your model closely match the window style of the building,” he said. “Arches, columns, corbelling … those are some of the little things I look for.”
But building historic replicas out of Legos isn’t cheap.
To offset the cost, Grover is constantly in search of creative ways to fund his projects.
So far, Grover has received funding from the Rhode Island Council on the Arts, Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism and the Providence Public Library.
One of his favorite projects, a replica of Cranston High School East, was funded entirely by alumni.
“That was fun because there’s a lot of Thunderbolt spirit out there,” Grover said.
Grover said he’s most proud of his recreation of the Providence Public Library, which is on permanent display inside the building.
Right now, Grover said he’s in the process of building the Carl G. Lauro Elementary School on Federal Hill.
“It’s a beautiful snapshot of Providence history,” he said. “The building itself is architecturally interesting. It’s one of those buildings that was on a post card at some point.”
There are hundreds of historic buildings and properties scattered across the state. While all of them are important, Grover said he loves focusing on the ones that are most overlooked.
“I want to make [replicas] of buildings that people don’t necessarily care about,” he said. “It’s a kooky way to make a serious point … there’s a good message behind this work.”