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Benefit Street Arsenal, Providence Marine Corps of Artillery

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1839–1840, James C. Bucklin. 176 Benefit St.
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)
  • (From Thomas Williams Bicknell, The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Vol. II (New York: American Historical Society, 1920).)

The Benefit Street Arsenal is another version of the elevation as aggrandized orifice. If St. John's, the Sullivan Dorr House, and the Unitarian Church show John Holden Greene as a designer venturing into “Gothick” from the Federal style, the Arsenal shows a Greek Revival designer making the same stylistic move. A rubblestone, stucco-covered box, it presents to Benefit Street a giant, hobnailed portal as a pointed arch between crenellated towers with slotted. Lancet windows fortified by iron shutters line the side elevations. Not nicety of form, but the resonance with which “signs” convert the box to an “armory” accounts for its expressive charm. No sooner was it built than the battery had to rally to “defend” its castle against the Dorr Rebellion in 1842, although what little military confrontation there was occurred in Chepachet, close to the western boundary of the state. Bronze tablets placard its front with more serious claims to glory. As a type it compares with the Newport Artillery Company, built four years earlier ( NE79). Fortunately it was not so impregnable that it could not be moved one lot to the north when, in 1906, a tunnel for a now defunct Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad was bored through College Hill beneath its old site.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Benefit Street Arsenal, Providence Marine Corps of Artillery", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 77-78.

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