Cranston Street Armory

The Cranston Street Armory is a historic building in Providence, Rhode Island. It was built in 1907 at a cost of $650,000.00, with the firm of M.J. Houlihan supervising its construction. The building was occupied by the Rhode Island National Guard from its opening until 1996. Since then, parts of the building have been used as film studios, and some of its offices occupied by the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists the Armory as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." Its distinctive yellow bricks, crenellated turrets, and decorative stonework mark it as a historically significant building and neighborhood icon.

The armory was built with a steel-truss frame, with a large open central hall and two towers with a total of 165,000 square feet (15,300 m2) of space. The main hall alone is as wide as two football fields. After World War I, the armory was used by 243rd Coast Artillery, an in later years by the 43rd and 118th as well.

On account of its imposing presence, the Cranston Street Armory has lent its name to the surrounding area of Providence's West End, which is often known as the "Armory District." Several area businesses, among them the Armory Revival Company and Armory Properties, also take their name from this building.

The films Outside Providence and Underdog were filmed using the open areas within the Armory for bluescreen work, as well as exterior shots of adjacent areas.

The Armory was used for several years by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League to host indoor track and field meets including the Rhode Island state championships and the Brown Invitational track meet. Although the conditions within the Armory were not the greatest for producing quality times, the atmosphere during championship track meets was outstanding as teams circled the track and cheered on the performers. A well known meet occurred in 1980, when the Woonsocket High School Villa Novans surprisingly defeated the favorite, Bishop Hendricken Hawks, to win the Class A Championships with the last event of the evening. The Hawks went on to win the state championship the following week, but the excitement in the Class and state championships could not be measured.

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Cranston Street Armory - Decline
... After the state passed tax incentives to encourage filming in Rhode Island the armory served a brief stint as a sound stage ... Parts of Outside Providence were shot in and around the armory ... a proposed bond issue to finance renovation and restoration of the armory was placed on the ballot and supported by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, it did not pass ...

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