New roof, grant-financed repairs coming to Forestdale Schoolhouse

A picture shows the schoolhouse during 2021 renovations. The building has undergone steady improvements over the last several years.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Narragansett-based Martone Construction will soon begin repairs on a historic building in town, completing exterior work thanks to grants acquired by members of the North Smithfield Heritage Association.

The Town Council unanimously approved award of a $90,394 contract to Martone, the only bidder for the work to the one-room Forestdale Schoolhouse.

“This project will allow us to finish the exterior,” said NSHA President Richard Keene, noting that in addition to a new roof, the building will get new emergency exit stairs and a base for the cupola. “We want to focus on more critical repairs at this time.”

Built in 1877, the structure at 190 School St. 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.

Beth Faricy, chairman of the organization’s grant committee applied for funding to complete the project, securing awards totaling more than $64,000 in June. The funding included $2,500 from North Smithfield Ambulance Association; a $4,000 RI Legislative Grant; a $10,000 matching grant from the 1772 Foundation; and $47,750 from the Champlin Foundation. 

“I certainly want to thank the council for their support – for all the times we’ve come before you for additional funds to help,” Faricy said Monday. “That kind of money helps us when we go for the grants and they say ‘do you have any funds that are matching this?’

NSHA President Richard Keene speaks about the project to members of the Town Council.

Martone quoted roof work at $56,944 with the remaining work to cost $33,450.

“They’re well-known for their work on historic buildings and we’re very happy with their reputation, and the amount that they quoted,” said Keene of the contractor. “We’re ready to start these repairs as soon as we get approval.”

Councilor Claire O’Hara thanked the NSHA members for their efforts.

“I believe anything your group does is well-researched, beyond question. Because of you they’re not being lost,” O’Hara said of the buildings under the organization’s management, which also include Heritage Hall and Memorial Town Hall. “History is important and it’s money well-spent.”

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