From the beginning, the restoration priorities of Warren’s 1842 Armory Hall project have been hotly debated. What comes first? Should we, the board of trustees, be concerned with making a visual impact on the exterior of the building… or do we target projects that will enable us to reopen the Armory Hall for public use after having been closed for five years. Or, perhaps better still, do we concentrate on making the building as secure as possible by weatherproofing it, to prevent our New England weather from causing further damage… Planning the ‘next logical steps’ was a necessity as was the need to obtain funds from grants, donations, fund-raising events and community activities to make the restoration of Armory Hall a reality.
The initial phase of this type of restoration project is extremely important. We wanted to show our commitment and that the restoration to the Armory Hall was finally underway. We thought the best way to demonstrate this to the community was to enact visible change to the building hence the rebuilding of the large beautiful gothic front entrance doors.
The second project undertaken was the installation of a new roofing system that was completed by two major Rhode Island construction companies that were made aware of the restoration of one of Warren’s historic landmarks by our President Brigadier General (Ret.) Richard Valente. The two companies donated their entire labor costs installing the roof and structural materials. We paid only for the materials, thereby receiving a minimum savings of $35,000 dollars!
In 2015 after reviewing the few period photos of the armory exterior that still exist we noted lantern brackets had hung from the upper arrow loop windows of the two turrets but only one lantern was ever used. We then checked the brackets and determined they were different sizes but both made of iron and seemed to be fabricated in the same manner suggesting they were made at the same time. No original lanterns have been found in either the attic or basement of the armory. Why the sizes are different we can’t say and we may never know. Until we find photographic evidence or documentation to explain the size difference the question remains…
However, we wanted to determine the feasibility of having copper lanterns made and see if it was possible to find a fabricator up to the task. Luckily for us, David Ferro at Ferro Weathervanes in Cutler Mills, was right in our own ‘backyard’. We contacted David and to our delight he was able to rebuild the two custom, period-appropriate, different-sized, copper lanterns for us, and then, to our amazement, donated them to the Armory, for which we are most sincerely grateful.
From the beginning and throughout the restoration process many people, companies, charitable organizations, craftspeople, photographers and artisans have come to appreciate this unique Warren building and its history, and have come forward to help us. We hope they and others will continue to do so as we move forward. We’re very grateful to them all and want to express our deepest heart-felt Thanks!