Soldier at the Cranston Street Armory

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Soldier at the Cranston Street Armory


Image of a soldier standing in front of the Cranston Street Armory located in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Cranston Street Armory is a historic building in Providence, Rhode Island. It was built in 1907 at a cost of $650,000.00. The architects were William R. Walker & Son and the buider was Michael J. Houlihan. The building was occupied by the Rhode Island National Guard from its opening until 1996. Since then, parts of the building have been used as film studios, and some of its offices occupied by the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists the Armory as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." Its distinctive yellow bricks, crenellated turrets, and decorative stonework mark it as a historically significant building and neighborhood icon.

The armory was built with a steel-truss frame, with a large open central hall and two towers with a total of 165,000 square feet (15,300 m2) of space. The main hall alone is as wide as two football fields. After World War I, the armory was used by 243rd Coast Artillery, and in later years by the 43rd and 118th as well.

On account of its imposing presence, the Cranston Street Armory has lent its name to the surrounding area of Providence's West End, which is often known as the "Armory District." Several area businesses, among them the Armory Revival Company and Armory Properties, also take their name from this building.

In 1981 structural problems were discovered that closed the main hall to public events. The National Guard however did not have the funds for the extensive repairs and upkeep required by the buildings age.

As of 1986 the Cranston Street Armory was home to the following Rhode Island National Guard units:
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 103d Field Artillery Brigade
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery Regiment
  • Service Battery, 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery
  • Regiment A Battery, 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery
  • Regiment Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 43rd Military Police Brigade
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 118th Military Police Battalion
  • 119th Military Police Company
About 1990 the tenant units were transferred to other armories. The Field Artillery units were moved to the Armory of Mounted Commands in Providence and the Military Police units were moved to the Warwick Armory in Warwick.

In 1996 the State of Rhode Island took over the property. After the state passed tax incentives to encourage filming in Rhode Island the armory served a brief stint as a sound stage. Parts of Outside Providence were shot in and around the armory. In 2004 a proposed bond issue to finance renovation and restoration of the armory was placed on the ballot and supported by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, it did not pass. Today the building is still in desperate need of repair. A small part of the building on the Parade St. side is occupied by the State of Rhode Island Fire Marshal and Bomb Squad, the main hall is used for storage.

Source: Cranston Street Armory-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See also:
Preston Collection photographs (GRS5.7c), circa 1920-1930

Report of the Commission on the Relocation of Monuments in the City of Providence, Made to the General Assembly at its January Session, 1908, 1908

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission:  Statewide Preservation Reports, 1975 - 1982

Various postcards of Providence and Pawtucket, R.I., c. 1918-1919


Rhode Island State Archives




Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





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"Soldier at the Cranston Street Armory," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #740, (accessed October 15, 2019).