2009-03-19 / Letters to the Editor

Preserve the town high way barn

I am writing this letter to you and the Jamestown Town Council to request your support in the following matter as relates to the future of the Public Works Barn at Fort Wetherill.

Having actively advocated and supported the historic preservation and restoration of former military sites in the town of Jamestown as well as their productive reuse over a period of many years, I wish to request the Town Council to consider extending the completed preservation/restoration efforts at the former Ft. Wetherill Harbor Mine Facility (now DEMs Rhode Island Fisheries Laboratory) to include the exteriors of the current highway barn when such building is released for use by others.

I ask your support in this matter on the basis that this concrete building was added in 1942 to expand the existing Harbor Mine operations for which the remaining buildings had been constructed in the 1908 timeframe. Existing external narrow rail tracks connect the several buildings that make up the entirety of the Harbor Mine Facility through the end of the WWII and are a part of the earlier preservation effort.

The state of Rhode Island, supported by a Joint- Committee of RIDEM and Jamestown citizens succeeded several years ago in causing the restoration of the older building to their original exterior appearance. The so-called Jamestown Highway Barn was not part of that project even though the 1942 structure was part of the WWII (and before) military presence in that area of Fort Wetherill. Historic signs have since been placed about the site to call attention to the role Jamestown played in the defense of Narragansett Bay in times of war. This historical fact, in my opinion, should not be forgotten nor neglected in the course of normal business operations.

My request is therefore: that the present-day highway barn receive an exterior face lift so it will match the exte- riors of the three remaining former Harbor Mine structures. To do so will enhance the integrity of the former Harbor Mine facility making it a viable piece of local history preserved for the benefit of the people of Jamestown and Rhode Island. Walter K. Schroder North Kingstown

Editor's Note: The writer is a former Jamestown resident and is the author of many books about the military defenses of Narragansett Bay.

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