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Naval Reserve Armory

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1891. 2 Church St.

Bristol's mightiest building, this armory was built for the local Naval Reserve Torpedo Company, a division of the Rhode Island Militia. Its construction is itself a history of the changing fortunes of the Bristol harbor. It dominates Warehouse Point, at the southern end of the port, and was originally developed in 1810 as Long Wharf, a bold speculative venture which involved five brick warehouses. Within eighty years, the complex had been demolished, and this stupdendous Richardsonian essay took its place. Built of random-coursed granite ashlar, heavily rusticated, and rising to a defiant machicolated cornice, it is a familiar type among America's armories of the late nineteenth century. But such buildings are almost always on landlocked urban sites, and to see an example—whose details derive from Italian palazzos—in a Venetian waterfront setting is oddly pleasing. The building was renovated by the WPA in the mid-1930s, although that work was interrupted by the hurricane of 1938, after which the building was decommissioned and acquired by the town.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Naval Reserve Armory", [Bristol, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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