NSHA receives $64K in grants for restoration of Forestdale school

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Heritage Association has recently received four new grants totaling $64,250 to continue its restoration of the historic Forestdale School, according to an announcement this week from Beth Faricy, chairman of the organization’s grant committee.

The North Smithfield Ambulance Association awarded a $2,500 grant; Sen. Melissa Murray secured a $4,000 RI Legislative Grant; the 1772 Foundation – part of Preserve Rhode Island – awarded a $10,000 matching grant; and the Champlin Foundation awarded a $47,750 grant. 

The NSHA will reportedly use the grants to replace the roof, build a new emergency exit stairway and complete window restoration, as well as continue to replace outdated electrical circuits.      

The one-room school was built in 1877 with funds procured from a lottery. It operated until 1974, when the school department ended classes there.

The building is one of two historic town-owned buildings that the association leases for $1 a year. 

Faricy said she extends her sincere appreciation to all the donor organizations on behalf of NSTA, as well as the town of North Smithfield for appropriating funds for the building’s restoration over the past several years. 

“Without their encouragement and financial support, this project could not happen,” Faricy said.   

The NSHA began the project in 2016 when it used a grant from the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to hire the Brewster Thornton Architectural Firm to develop a master restoration plan. Subsequent grants funded structural repairs, emergency electrical repairs, exterior restoration of painted surfaces, and most recently, a connection to the municipal water system.

The new grants will complete all exterior components of the master plan except a replacement cupola and connection to the town sewer system. The next phase of the restoration will address the interior components of the master plan that include a new climate control system, new electrical circuits, as well as refinishing ceiling, wall, and floor surfaces.  

When completed, the school will function as an archive and museum for the Village of Forestdale and the North Smithfield school and education system. 

The NSHA accepts photos and relics of Forestdale’s historic buildings, businesses, and residents as well as of local schools, teachers, and students. Those with items to contribute are asked to contact the organization at nsha@nsheritageassn.com or call (401) 651-6316.   

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