Artist Lives In Secret Room In Shopping Mall For Four Years

You never know what will inspire an artist to do great – and sometimes bizarre – things. For Michael Townsend of Providence, Rhode Island, it was a commercial for a local mall that talked about how great it would be if you could actually live in such a wonderful shopping centre. So he and seven other friends decided to do just that.

They set up an actual 750-square foot apartment inside the Providence Place Mall back in 2003 – with each person taking turns living there three weeks at a time. They somehow managed to construct a fake cinderblock wall and used an ordinary looking utility door to hide the entrance.

Inside were most of the comforts of home, including electric lights, a TV, a PlayStation3 (later stolen by an intruder) and even a hutch filled with china. The only thing missing: a washroom and running water, because there was no way to hook up plumbing. But they were in a giant shopping complex, after all, so one wasn’t far away.

The secret mallrats got away with it all these years until they entered the place last week – and found three security guards waiting for them. “Plans to finish the kitchen, install the wood flooring, add a second bedroom and replace the outdated cutlery were put on permanent hold recently as I was apprehended leaving the apartment,” Townsend writes on his website.

The 36-year-old was arrested and pled no contest to a trespassing charge. He’s been sentenced to probation, but his home away from home is gone for good.

Still, even authorities had to admit they were impressed by what he and his friends had done, with cops continually visiting the hidden room out of curiosity. “I was surprised at what he was able to accomplish,” agrees Providence Police Maj. Stephen Campbell. “But what he did was clearly criminal. The mall is private property.”

The “apartment” may be gone, but it will never be forgotten. Townsend kept a video log of his time inside the remarkable room. You can see it here.


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