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Woonsocket Armory

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1912, William R. Walker and Son. 316 South Main St. (at Providence St.)

In the Walker firm's clean sweep of the largest armory commissions in Rhode Island, this was the last—after those for Providence ( PR195), Pawtucket ( PA18), and one identical to this in Westerly (not included in this volume). Whereas the site encouraged an asymmetrical treatment for Pawtucket, this building, like Providence's on a relatively level rectangular plot, could be symmetrical. In the much larger Providence armory, the tall, castellated office and meeting blocks act as bookends for the drill hall between. Here the compact, cubic block of the armory's frontispiece rises above the low drill hall behind, which extends beyond it. Its hipped roof encloses a conventional metal-trussed spanning system. In addition to the blocky entrance tower in front, a turret guards every corner of the mass. Those for the entrance building are polygonal but near circular, and bracketed off the second story; those for the drill hall are square echoes of the main tower, but with chamfered corners and, like it, brought to the ground. Here again Walker demonstrates a nice sensibility for the way in which changes of tower shape and base enhance the expressive quality of these architectural chess pieces. In different ways, however, both the Providence and Pawtucket examples are sculpturally more impressive than the literalistic cornering of all towers here. The usual crenellation in sheet copper completes the masquerade of fortification. Sparing use of rough granite trim against the red brick walls provides accent and definition to the mass. It gathers around the entrance to invigorate the arched opening with a martial presence, although more bulk would have been more impressive.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Woonsocket Armory", [Woonsocket, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WO17.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 229-230.

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