Rhode Island Historic Preservation Grants – 2017

Posted June 20th, 2017 by maryalbro and filed in News & Announcements
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The 1772 Foundation has awarded 14 Rhode Island organizations historic preservation 1:1 matching grants totaling $150,000 for exterior work:  painting, surface restoration, fire/security systems, repairs to/restoration of porches, roofs and windows, repairs to foundations and sills, and chimney and masonry repointing. Individual grants ranged from $5,500 to the grant maximum of $15,000. Two organizations received the maximum award amount. Grants also were awarded in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Three libraries/library associations are among this year’s Rhode Island grant recipients: Adams Public Library in Central Falls, the Providence Athenæum, and the Memorial and Library Association of Westerly.

Adams Public Library, 205 Central Street

209 Central Street, Central Falls

The Providence Athenaeum

Wilcox Park Bandstand

In Central Falls, the poorest city in Rhode Island, Adams Public Library, a private nonprofit corporation, will preserve the next-door residential building for use as a makerspace and space for other library programming, fundraising activities, and community meetings. Built in 1900, the building has many Victorian features, such as fireplaces, moldings, hardwood floors and light fixtures, and a lovely sunroom. It was once the Lysander Flagg Museum, but closed due to a decline in visitor numbers. The award from The 1772 Foundation will be used for exterior wood repairs and painting. The house, like the neo-classical library-building, is in the Central Falls historic district. As it undertakes this historic preservation/adaptive reuse project, Adams Public Library assumes, as many public libraries in economically-distressed municipalities have, a leadership position in renewing community engagement and reviving neighborhood pride, while continuing its traditional role as provider of essential materials and services to meet the information, education and recreation needs of its users.

The Providence Athenæum was founded and incorporated in 1836 after a previous Providence Athenæum (est. 1831) and the Providence Library Company (est. 1753) both dissolved and formed a new library, which included the collections from both institutions. It remains one of the largest circulating libraries in Providence and also is known for its cultural programming, which is largely free and open to the public. The Athenæum’s Greek Revival building was designed by nationally known, nineteenth century, American architect, William Strickland. To preserve it and also to protect its collections, the Athenæum is undertaking a major building restoration project. The 1772 Foundation’s grant funds will be put toward roof repair, specifically the soffits. The Providence Athenæum is located in a prominent position on Benefit Street, near Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Like Adams Public Library, the Memorial and Library Association of Westerly is not part of municipal government, although Westerly Library is the public library for residents of Westerly, RI and Pawcatuck, CT. In addition to the town library, the Association owns and operates Wilcox Park. The park was established in 1898, when Harriet Wilcox purchased the seven-acre Rowse Babcock Estate in the heart of Westerly’s business district and donated it to the Memorial and Library Association. The park was a memorial to her husband, Stephen Wilcox, the moving force behind the building of the library. Expanded over the years, the now 15-acre arboretum/park features an acoustically designed, wooden bandstand, which was built in 1902. The 1772 Foundation funding will be used to restore the bandstand’s roof, a project vital for the preservation of its unique conical, wooden sounding board.

A list of all of this year’s Rhode Island recipients of historic preservation matching grants follows.

Adams Public Library (Central Falls)Next-door residential building$12,250
Coggeshall Farm Museum (Bristol)Farmhouse$12,500
Edward King Senior Center (Newport)Edward King House$14,500
Fort Adams Trust (Newport)Fort$12,500
Glocester Heritage Society Reuben Mason House$5,500
Jamestown Historical SocietyConanicut Friend’s Meeting House$5,500
La Farge Restoration Fund (Newport)Former Newport Congregational Church$9,500
Memorial and Library Association of WesterlyWilcox Park Bandstand$7,750
Newport Restoration FoundationChristopher Townsend House$10,000
Portsmouth Historical SocietyFormer Christian Union Church Building$10,000
The Preservation Society of Newport County (Newport)Kingscote$10,000
The Providence AthenæumAthenæum$15,000
Varnum Continentals (East Greenwich)Varnum Armory$15,000
Westerly Armory RestorationWesterly Armory$10,000