It began in the spring of 2003. The unit’s dream decision to restore the exterior of Armory Hall was underway. In order to obtain “big money” the Rangers had to prove support. First the Rangers themselves pledged $10,000 from their own savings. Then solicitations were actively sought via community businesses and organizations, from donations during local events, and through interested individuals and small granting agencies during the spring and summer months. A lengthy state grant was submitted that summer. Finally in November 2003 we were awarded a matching grant of $30,000 from the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission during their first round of state preservation grants. We were the only West Bay structure to get funds from this program in 2003 and were one of 26 out of 46 applicants funded! The Historic Collaborative in Bristol was previously chosen as our preservation consultants and architectural eyes. Architectural Preservation Group in Warwick were then employed as our contractor. You would think that $60,000 would get work completed on the four exterior walls, but no. We still had lots to learn. Plans, drawings, and materials are very costly. Only two of the four walls were completed during that first phase.
Fundraising continued in all of 2004 and phase one of the restoration began that spring. Small donations and grant sums continued to pour in but in order to apply for a second, larger amount from the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission during their second round, we needed a plan to secure a huge dollar-for-dollar match to finish our dream. The other two sides of the exterior required new stucco soon so the color would blend with the completed sides. Numerous windows, shutters, moldings, doors, electrical updating, new lighting fixtures, a new cedar shake roof, etc. had to also be tackled. In short, all aspects of the exterior. The time was now! Letters of Community Support were overwhelming; from organizations, professors, and experts in the field to local legislators and city and federal government officials as well. A Champlin Foundation grant was submitted in June 2004 followed by the second state preservation grant in July. In November 2004 our prayers were answered. Both mega grants were accepted; $72,000 and $68,353 respectively!!! Although it took several more years to complete all of the restoration initiatives of Armory Hall’s exterior, the job is now complete.
The Rangers truly thank all those that believed in this project. It could not have been possible without each and every one of you!