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OUTTAKE: Let’s get New Bedford’s triple-deckers on the map!

By Steven Froias / Groundworker-At-Large

Frequently when I’m writing something for this blog, or for State of the Arts in The Standard-Times daily newspaper, or other media outlets, I come across anecdotes that don’t find a home in the final story. Outtakes is a place to share them and I hope you enjoy these “snapshots” from New Bedford.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Viera Levitt, Gallery Director for UMass Dartmouth. It was a fun discussion; UMassD Galleries are on a roll with a succession of outstanding exhibits, and it was great to learn about how that happens.

In the course of talk, I discovered that Levitt’s husband is also quite the creative dynamo. And, I was familiar with his work – and you may be, too, or least very familiar with the subject of his work.

Currently, Marc Levitt is producing the documentary, “Triple Decker: A New England Love Story.” It is, according to Marc’s website, “A film about the three floor tenement unique primarily to urban and industrial New England, that was a central feature in the lives of many late 19th, 20th and 21st century immigrants and wells as others seeking affordable, decent quality, multi-unit housing.”

As we all know, New Bedford is blessed with many of these iconic structures throughout the city. But as of yet, Marc hasn’t filmed in the city.

The couple lives in Wakefield, RI with their children, though Viera said she’s broached the subject of making the move to New Bedford with Marc a few times. Now, he’s got another voice in his hear saying the same thing – at least in a cinematic sense.

‘Triple Decker’ is still in production, so New Bedford can still get in on the discussion. Marc writes that’s it is not just architecture he is seeking to capture, but something more:

“The story of Triple Deckers will be not simply a ‘dusting off’ of nostalgic old pictures and stories, but will provide hope for an alternative way of life, for city planners, architects, families and for us all. It will also give visibility to these iconic apartments that provided shelter and community for generations of immigrants and working people while demonstrating the creativity, resilience, humor and courage of their inhabitants.”

If anyone can capture the essence of this community, it is Levitt.

His first documentary film, co-produced and co-directed with Ms. Lilach Dekel, was about the Narragansett Tribal stonemasons who built so many of the stonewalls we see around New England over the last 400 years. I caught it on Rhode Island PBS and loved it.

Marc Levitt is a multi-talented person, so it’s worth spending some time looking over his website. Then maybe enticing him to New Bedford by dropping him an email.

I think the city is big enough to handle the combined fabulous quotient of Viera and Marc Levitt!

Here’s the trailer for ‘Triple Decker’:

Steven Froias