In a brilliant red white and blue display of soldiers on their way to the battle of White Plains, a silhouette by Norman Rockwell greets you as you enter the city. Below this amazing piece of Americana is a sign proclaiming “New Rochelle Rich in History”. This one piece, meticulously restored, says so much about this fine city. There is, however, more than meets the eye.
A large, one of a kind structure sits on Main Street. One of very few Naval Armories ever built in the U.S. It is a part of our history and the culture of this city and has helped define our place in this world today by serving us throughout the past. From those who were sent off to fight the “war to end all wars”, to those who marshaled to contribute to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of September 11th this edifice takes it’s place in our society as no other place can. The sole survivor of an era that will forever be forgotten if we do not do what we are compelled to do, for the sake of those before us, and those that will follow. The clearest vision will see the capacity that exists in a building we already own. The potential to deliver the best of what New Rochelle has to offer cannot be overlooked. The possibilities are endless if you look outside the box.
Imagine a vibrant and energetic arts center or museum and interpretive historical center that would engage the community. A living tribute to what those of this city might have become had they not paid the price of answering their country’s call. A forum for those yet to come. It’s been said that no soldier ever dies until he is forgotten. What better way to honor our history of contribution than by celebrating in life. This is the time to make history for all of the right reasons. When we look back, will the urban development fall under the “rich in history” category?
Many other cities have embraced their armory by committing themselves to making the right choice for not only their history, but for the future:
The Armory Art Center – Palm Beach, FL
The Armory Center for the Arts – Pasadena,CA
Armory Square – Syracuse, NY
Bataan Armory Museum – Santa Fe, NM
Portland Armory Center Stage – Portland, OR
Armory Art and Music Center – Duluth, MN
There is also the additional environmental bonus. There is a saying that the greenest building is the one that’s already built. When you take into account the effort and energy to raze this building, site prep, landfill disposal, and alternate construction compared to reusing and adapting this historical site you’ll see the bonus. The investment relative to value of the building is small. Relative to the cultural and historical value, it’s even less.
I would urge anyone to learn the facts surrounding this icon before forming your opinion.