Sights ~ The Cranston Street Armory ~ Providence

Cranston Street Armory
310 Cranston St.
Providence, Rhode Island

Cranston St. Armory

Since its construction in 1907, the Cranston Street Armory has become a landmark in the West End of Providence. So much so, that the neighborhood surrounding it is known as "the Armory District."

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Once used for storage of munitions and military training, the National Guard occupied the building until 1996.

"The Castle," as it's sometimes known, sits on land that was willed to the state by Ebenezer Knight Dexter, and was used as a Civil War encampment and training ground. Although the land itself is now part of the Providence Parks, it's still known as the "Dexter Training Ground" and "Dexter Field."

The architects for the Armory were William R. Walker & Son, who also designed Warwick City Hall, Cumberland Town Hall, Emery's Majestic Theater (now Trinity Rep), Avon Cinema, Westerly Armory and the Fifth Ward Wardroom in Pawtucket, among many others.

Throughout its history, the Armory has distributed hot lunches to schoolchildren, hosted intramural sports, served as a public venue for inaugural celebrations, track meets, dog shows and more.

Megan and I attended the inaugural celebration of Mayor Jorge O. Elorza last week. It was our first time inside the building, and it's pretty impressive inside, too. Lots of dark, carved wood, and stairs going everywhere.

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The training hall was decorated for the occasion, and looked good with the draping and cut-out lights. A live band played for the sold-out crowd, and local restaurants offered samples.

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The crowd went wild when Mayor Elorza talked about his hope to restore the building to its former glory and putting it to regular use again.

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Elorza's speech was followed by a parade featuring What Cheer Brigade and a local youth club.

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I'm really looking forward to learning the future of the Armory. It's a beautiful historic building with so much to offer.

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