PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It was home sweet home, in the most unlikely of places.
The story of the Providence Place mall apartment garnered global attention, and to Michael Townsend's surprise, thousands of emails saying "thank you."
"Some people thanked us for undermining the man. Some people thanked us for reminding us anything can happen," Townsend said.
When the story broke Townsend initially shared video of the living quarters with NBC 10 News. But now, nearly nine years later, he shared some never-before-seen footage.
From video of the team creating the apartment to video of them buying things from the mall for the apartment, Townsend documented the project all along the way.
He and his fellow artists occupied the space for four years before mall security finally discovered them in October 2007. An initial charge of breaking and entering against him was reduced to trespassing.
It's been nearly a decade, and Townsend hasn't been back to Providence Place because he's banned from coming to the mall, permanently.
"You sign a little piece of paper saying you can't set foot on the property, and I've been true to that. I've biked around it for the last seven or eight years," Townsend said. "And they show you a little map with a red border around it and you can't cross the line."
After the mall project collapsed, Townsend didn't go far. He currently lives just a mile from the mall.
I ran into him again last year, when he was a witness to a huge mill fire on Kinsley Avenue in Providence and took some incredible video.
His current apartment doubles as his studio, where he and his team continue to create tape art, partnering with places like corporations, hospitals and schools.
"That's our true love, giving people the opportunity to change the environment and draw together," Townsend said.
His living space now is nearly double the size of his mall apartment.
Townsend points out a spiral staircase that came from another mill building in Providence. The apartment is filled with items he's salvaged from other buildings that have been demolished.
"Almost everything here is from those rescue efforts and the things that are not are all things that were bought for the mall but never had the opportunity to bring in," Townsend said.
The mall project was shut down, just shy of its ultimate completion. The artists were planning to install hardwood floors and functional plumbing.
"An ambitious act that never had a final chapter," Townsend said.
But it certainly rewrote the book on our notion of what makes a home a home.
NBC 10's Brian Crandall catches up with Rhode Islander and original "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch in our next installment of "Where Are They Know?" See that story Friday on NBC 10 News at 11.